Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams, from the prestigious University of Bern in Switzerland, have a new study published in Current Psychology. The title is “Understanding left-wing authoritarianism: Relations to the dark personality traits, altruism, and social justice commitment.”
The researchers interviewed 834 Americans. They found that 67 of these people supported the violent BLM/Antifa “George Floyd riots” of 2020. Nineteen had participated in violence during these riots. The people in the sample were given questionnaires to rate their level of narcissism, altruism, socially desirable responding, political orientation, and support for left-wing authoritarianism. They concluded that support for violent left-wing extremism is driven by antagonistic narcissism and psychopathy rather than a commitment to altruism and social justice.
The results of multiple regression analyses showed that a strong ideological view, according to which a violent revolution against existing societal structures is legitimate (i.e., anti-hierarchical aggression), was associated with antagonistic narcissism (Study 1) and psychopathy (Study 2). However, neither dispositional altruism nor social justice commitment was related to left-wing anti-hierarchical aggression. Considering these results, we assume that some leftist political activists do not actually strive for social justice and equality but rather use political activism to endorse or exercise violence against others to satisfy their own ego-focused needs.
From the paper:
In two pre-registered studies, we investigated the relationship of LWA with the ego-focused trait of narcissism. Based on existing research (Zeigler-Hill et al., 2021), we expected individuals with higher levels of LWA to report higher levels of narcissism. The results of both studies are in line with this prediction: In particular, the results of Study 1 showed that the LWA subfacet of anti-hierarchical aggression was significantly predicted by antagonistic narcissism above and beyond individuals’ prosocial dispositions (i.e., altruism). While antihierarchical aggression represents the drive to use force to overthrow those in power and who endorse conservative values, antagonistic narcissism is characterized by exploitation of others, lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, arrogance and manipulative behavior. Accordingly, the results of Study 1 show that a strong ideological view, according to which a violent revolution against existing societal structures is legitimate is rather endorsed by individuals with ego-focused motives. This interpretation is further supported by the results of Study 2 which showed that LWA antihierarchical aggression was predicted by psychopathy again above and beyond individuals’ prosocial dispositions (i.e., social justice commitment). Unexpectedly, neither dispositional altruism (Study 1) nor social justice commitment (Study 2) was found to be related to antihierarchical aggression. Considering these results, we assume that some political activists on the left side of the political spectrum do not actually strive for social justice and the support of underprivileged groups or persons, but rather endorse or express violence for the satisfaction of their own ego-focused, sometimes even antisocial, needs.