Psychology Colloquium: Professor Lazar Stankov (University of Sydney & University of Southern Queensland)
Speaker: Professor Lazar Stankov (University of Sydney & University of Southern Queensland)
Title: Individual differences meet political psychology: from communism to the right-wing extremism via IQ, education, social conservatism and conflict
Abstract: I will review our work that points to a link between psychological aspects of Social Conservatism and measures of militant extremist mindset (MEM). Some of these studies were cross-cultural while others were based on data collected from participants in areas that have experienced recent conflict. Our findings point to the emerging role of cognitive abilities and education in the division between social groups. The perception that higher education has created a “liberal elite” in society has contributed to an increased endorsement of conservative views.
A critical component of militant extremist mindset (MEM) that distinguishes it from Social Conservatism is Grudge. Three aspects of Grudge are a) Belief that we live in a Vile World; b) Belief that the West is responsible for all problems in the world today; and c) EOC (Ethos of Conflict) Grudge that blames immediate neighbours for poor relationship. These are the central predictors of animosity. While nationalism/ethnocentrism has a significant positive correlation with Grudge, measures of the trust in the system have low correlation. By using the rhetoric that points to the division between the ‘people’ and the ‘elite’, populist politicians contribute to the increased visibility of the right-wing political parties. Terrorism motivated by the right-wing ideology is also on the rise.
Two recently completed studies of MEM produced outcomes that may be useful to policymakers. First, Serbs living in the area of the recent conflict with Albanians show higher levels of Grudge than Serbs living outside the conflict area. Thus, conflict increases the likelihood of militant extremism. Second, asylum seekers hold lower levels of Grudge towards Western nations than do people living in Southern Europe. Right-wing politicians are wrong in assuming that immigration will lead to an increase in Islamic terrorism.