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Bob Altemeyer:

Social Psychologist - Professor of Psychology, University of Manitoba
Wrote: “The Authoritarian Specter”


  • Assessed thousands of individuals.
  • Used advanced mathematical analysis to reduce authoritarian traits observed to three:
    • Hierarchical Submission,
    • Either / or Conventionalism, and
    • Aggression.
  • Found our basic traits match our politics!!
Posted 23 June 2006; Updated 17 Mar 2007

The play acting was supposed to be benign, as play acting usually is. As if by the stroke of a magic wand, Philip Zimbardo proved otherwise in 1971 in his now-famous Stanford Prison Experiment. His two-week study of the psychology of incarceration had to be called off on the sixth day because the conditions of Abu Ghraib had developed of their own accord. For some of his later commentary see: Stanford News Service.
Updated 7 April 2010

Identifying the Psychological Traits
Published 1996 Bob Altemeyer
Book Review with commentary: Updated 15 Jan 2008

Bob Altemeyer, is both daring and credible. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Manitoba. His professional focus is the social psychology of authoritarian personalities; it is his specialty. Unlike the Freudians and political pundits, his calling is to understand and define the personality itself in scientific terms. Toward that end he finds that three basic traits explain the behaviors authoritarians exhibit: Submission, Aggression, and Conventionalism. Readers should carefully note his definitions of each before drawing conclusions of their own.
14 Sept 2007

Too often key events that affect the future of humankind go unnoticed or even forgotten. The works of Mendel, who discovered the genetic code is one example coming to mind. Charles Darwin himself was not fully appreciated in his own time in spite of a high and controversial profile. Some of his deepest insights are just now coming into general acceptance. Giants who followed him would include not only Gregor Mendel, but James Watson and Francis Crick with vital help from Rosalind Franklin. Because of them, humanity now has a much better view of itself. They enabled a new beginning on the question of nature/nurture. Neither was very clear before Darwin. Darwin, Mendel, Watson, Crick, and Franklin comprise humanity's heroes in biology, the nature side of the coin.

Have you ever seen two organizations locked in a titanic battle? One is driven by the taskmaster who demands compliance. The other is led by a coach who mentors all on the common goal and who asks for feedback continuously. Which style is winning and why? These are my subjects for this chapter. By governance, I mean the style by which we manage our enterprise. Let me start with some groundwork.