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Longitudinal Change in Authoritarian Factors as Explained by Political Beliefs and a Distrust of Science

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posted on 2022-10-20, 23:04 authored by T Winter, Benjamin RiordanBenjamin Riordan, B Bizumic, J Hunter, PE Jose, J Duckitt, D Scarf
During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been marked changes in individuals' belief systems (e.g., support for lockdowns) as a result of the threat of COVID-19. In the current study, we investigated whether these belief systems change as a function of changes in the threat of COVID-19. Specifically, we conducted a longitudinal study, with authoritarianism measured at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand and when the threat of COVID-19 was low (i.e., no known COVID-19 cases in the community). A total of 888 participants responded at both timepoints, completing measures of political orientation and distrust of science, in addition to the measure of authoritarianism. We had two hypotheses. First, that liberals would display a more marked reduction in authoritarian submission between Alert Level 4 and Alert Level 1 relative to conservatives. Second, that changes would be mediated by trust in science. Both hypotheses were supported, demonstrating that authoritarianism is sensitive to threat, even for those on the political left, and that trust in science helps to explain these changes. We suggest that fluctuations in authoritarianism may be different across the political spectrum due to underlying belief systems such as a distrust of science.


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Frontiers in Political Science



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Frontiers Media SA



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© 2022 Winter, Riordan, Bizumic, Hunter, Jose, Duckitt and Scarf. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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