Applying the Theory of Affective Intelligence to Support for Authoritarian Policies and Parties
Advances in Political Psychology
109 - 139 p.
Affective intelligence theory, Anger, Authoritarianism, Far-right voting, Fear
Emotion, after a long period of inattention, began to attract greater scrutiny as a key driver of human behavior in the mid-1980s. One approach that has achieved significant influence in political science is affective intelligence theory (AIT). We deploy AIT here to begin to understand the recent rise in support for right-wing populist leaders around the globe. In particular, we focus on specific emotional appraisals on elections held at periods of heightened threat, including the two 2015 terror attacks in France, as influences on support for the far-right Front National among conservatives. Contrary to much conventional wisdom, we speculate that threats can generate both anger and fear, and with very different political consequences. We expect fear to inhibit reliance on extant political dispositions such as ideological identification and authoritarianism, while anger will strengthen the influence of these same dispositions. Our core findings, across repeated tests, show that fear and anger indeed differentially condition the way habits of thought and action influence support for the far right in the current historical moment. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is anger that mobilizes the far right and authoritarians. Fear, on the other hand, diminishes the impact of these same dispositions.