Monday, April 8, 2019

Political Extremists Are More Like Each Other Than They Are Like Moderates

A new study has concluded that left and right political extremists are more psychologically similar to each other than they are to moderates. 

Psychological Features of Extreme Political Ideologies by Jan-Willem van Prooijen & APM Krouwel.


"In this article, we examine psychological features of extreme political ideologies. In what ways are political left- and right-wing extremists similar to one another and different from moderates? We propose and review four interrelated propositions that explain adherence to extreme political ideologies from a psychological perspective. We argue that (a) psychological distress stimulates adopting an extreme ideological outlook; (b) extreme ideologies are characterized by a relatively simplistic, black-and-white perception of the social world; (c) because of such mental simplicity, political extremists are overconfident in their judgments; and (d) political extremists are less tolerant of different groups and opinions than political moderates. In closing, we discuss how these psychological features of political extremists increase the likelihood of conflict among groups in society."


"To conclude, although there are important psychological differences between people with left-wing and people with right-wing ideologies, there are also substantial similarities between left- and right-wing extremists that differentiate them from political moderates. The features presented here provide a psychological perspective on political extremism and contribute to a more complete understanding of how political ideology predicts human cognition, emotion, and behavior."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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