Type
Article
Title
Childhood harshness induces long-lasting preference for authoritarian leaders
In
Evolution and Human Behavior
Author(s)
SAFRA Lou - École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris) (Author)
ALGAN Yann - Département d'économie (Author)
TECU Teodora - University of Bucharest (Author)
GRÈZES Julie - École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris) (Author)
BAUMARD Nicolas - École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris) (Author)
CHEVALLIER Coralie - École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris) (Author)
Volume
38
Number
5
Pages
645 - 651 p.
ISSN
10905138
DOI
10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2017.05.001
Keywords
Authoritarianism, Poverty, Childhood, Social perception, Dominance, Politics
Abstract
EN
Understanding the origins of political authoritarianism is of key importance for modern democracies. Recent works in evolutionary psychology suggest that human cognitive preferences may be the output of a biological response to early stressful environments. In this paper, we hypothesized that people's leader preferences are partly driven by early signals of harshness. We experimentally elicited children's (Study 1) and adults' (Study 2) political preferences using faces controlled for dominance and trustworthiness and showed that early childhood harshness has an enduring effect on adult political attitudes. Importantly, this effect was further confirmed using self-reported extreme authoritarianism (Study 2) and by the analysis of the large database of the European Value Survey (Study 3). We discuss the potential political implications of this early calibration of leader preferences.

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