Saturday, December 22, 2007

The authoritarian personality

A sense of humor is present in Shrinkrapradio when so shortly after having discussed the shining examples of leadership it takes on as the next topic: the authoritarian personality. Even if the show about leadership was of regular (great) shrinkrapradio quality, I did feel a wee bit uncomfortable, with the uncritical effort to describe the personalities of great leaders - as if they are just there as Great Men to be emulated. This is entirely compensated by the interview with professor Altemeyer, outstanding specialist on The Authoritarian Personality (not to say the world's authority on the subject).

It is, so it appears, not so easy to capture the authoritarian personality. Easier it turns out to be to capture its complement: the personality of the one seeking to follow the authoritarian. What plays an important role, and it sits in all of us, are tendencies such as lack of flexibility, righteousness, low tolerance of ambiguity and diversity and last but not least aggression.

The latency comes out easily in times of crisis. Dr. Dave and Dr. Bob (Altemeyer) discuss the US in the post 9/11 era. The character of right wing evangelicals and the bad effect the resulting authoritarianism has had. On a side note I wonder what Bob's take would be on the new kind of Evangelicals Krista Tippett picked up on in the podcast of Speaking of Faith (Jim Wallis, The Warrens). Anyway, it was a delight to listen in on Dr. Dave and Dr. Bob; the best among the great stuff Shrinkrapradio has to offer.

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