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Sample size: 1240
Field period: 4/08/2012-07/24/2012
4-item authoritarian child-rearing scale (Brandt & Henry, 2012; Feldman & Stenner, 1997; Henry, 2011)
5-item right wing authoritarianism scale (from Funke, 2005)
Additional measures and covariates:
1-item measure of mood ("How would you describe your mood right now?")
1-item measure of self-esteem ("I have high self-esteem.")
1-item measure of conscientiousness (scale ranging from "Someone who likes to plan things, like to tidy up, pays attention to details, but can be rigid or inflexible" to "Someone who doesn't necessarily work to a schedule, tends to be flexible, but disorganized and often forgets to put things back in their proper place")
2-item measure of social value ("People see me as having value to society." & "I am not respected by the broader society.")
The results were consistent with our predictions. For the measure of authoritarian child-rearing values, we found that people who were less educated reported more support for authoritarian child-rearing values compared to people who are highly educated (b = -.08, SE = .01, p < .001). As expected, this effect was qualified by the expected significant participant X social value interaction (b = .04, SE = .01, p = .01). In the condition where people experienced social value threat, the relationship between education and authoritarian child-rearing values was strong and in the expected direction, negative and significant, b = -.11, SE = .02, p < .001. In the social value affirmation condition, the association between education and authoritarianism was significantly weaker, b = -.04, SE = .02, p = .02. These results suggest that authoritarianism among the uneducated is not just a product of cognitive and democratic deficiencies, but may serve to buffer threats to the social worth of the stigmatized (cf. Brandt & Henry, 2012; Henry, 2011).
We also found only a main effect of education on RWA (b = -.11, SE = .02, p < .001) and no significant main effects or interactions with the social value manipulation (all p's > .10).
The effect of the social value of education reminder did not have consistent effects and did not qualify the above results, suggesting that the effects of education-stigma on authoritarianism do not require situational reminders of stigma. The two items measuring perceived social value did not mediate the results above suggesting that the social-value process we predict may be more implicit.
The results further suggest that members of stigmatized groups adopt authoritarian values because of the psychological protection that it provides. This goes beyond previous internal explanations for the association between education and authoritarianism that relied on characterizations of the uneducated as thoughtless and unknowledgeable to suggest that the external stigmatizing environment plays an important role.
Brandt, M. J., & Henry, P. J. (under review). A stigma-based explanation for the association between education and authoritarian values. Manuscript submitted for publication