chapter  7
21 Pages

Beyond (right-wing) authoritarianism: Conspiracy mentality as an incremental predictor of prejudice

ByRoland Imhoff

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Croatian defender Josip Simunic was missing in the Croatian team. The reason for that was not an injury, but a FIFA ban on him for having made a fascist salute to the Croatian fans after the final qualification match in November 2013. Simunic, of course, is not an isolated case: Time and again political commentators point to the rise of the far right within Europe – whether it is Jobbik in Hungary, the terrorist neo-Nazi underground organization NSU, or far-right parties NPD in Germany, Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in Greece, and many others. Although the right has traditionally been understood as conservative and law abiding, what many of these groups have in common is a fierce opposition to the system and those in power. In the present chapter, I will argue that part of this seeming paradox may be resolved by widening our scope on more predisposing personality variables and leaving the dominant view, whereby prejudices and other far-right attitudes are predominantly the result of an authoritarian character and a belief in inequality. Fully understanding the role of individual differences in prejudicial beliefs may require turning our attention to a previously largely neglected personality factor that might add incremental power in explaining such attitudes. Specifically, I will argue for the predictive power of a view of the world as being run by a few powerful groups via secretly made plans – a conspiracy mentality. Such a Manichean worldview may not be an exclusive feature of the far right, but nevertheless it holds the promise to reconcile the paradox of the authoritarian and, at the same time, subversive appearance of the far right.