Authoritarianism as a personality trait: Evidence from a longitudinal behavior genetic study

Steven Ludeke, Robert F Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Authoritarianism has long been conceived of as a highly stable personality trait (Adorno et al., 1950; Altemeyer, 1981), though recent accounts have argued that authoritarianism is too malleable to justify this conception. We provided a test of the trait conception of authoritarianism by measuring its stability in a community sample of twins over a 15. year period, and by identifying the source of any stability with biometric modeling. Our results showed that authoritarianism exhibited a high degree of rank-order stability (r=74). Biometric analyses indicated that this stability derived primarily from genetic influences, with changes in authoritarianism due to the unique experiences of the individual. In both of these respects, our results were highly comparable to those reported for other personality traits in previous work, indicating support for the trait conception of authoritarianism. Other results of note included a higher degree of stability among the more educated portion of the sample, supporting a hypothesis by Krosnick and Alwin (1989).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)480-484
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1. Sept 2013


  • Authoritarianism
  • Genetics
  • Personality
  • Twin study


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