Emotional Responses to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks : Addressing the Authoritarianism Puzzle
online - p.
Authoritarianism, Charlie Hebdo Attacks, Threat
The finding that threat boosts the public’s preferences for authoritarian policies has been well established in the research literature. Why this shift occurs remains open as the extant literature reports contradictory findings regarding the interaction of dispositions, such as conservatism and authoritarianism, with threat. One line of research argues that threat increases authoritarian preferences among those who are more prone to authoritarianism. Another argues that it is those with a nonauthoritarian ideology who switch in response to threat. By using a two-wave panel study of the French population taken before and after the January 2015 twin attacks in Paris, we find that both trends occur simultaneously. Our results show that the factors that drive the impact of ideological dispositions on support for authoritarian policies are emotional reactions. On the one hand, anxiety led left-wing respondents to move towards adopting authoritarian policy preferences following the attacks, yet produced no such change among right-wing respondents. On the other hand, anger did not turn left-wing voters more authoritarian but strengthened authoritarian policy preferences among right-wing respondents.