The Dogmatic Personality: Cognitive, Emotional and Behavioral Dimensions


Dogmatisms as a process not content

What does it mean to think dogmatically about something? On the surface, dogmatism seems associated with religious beliefs. While most world religions can be dogmatic, this implies there is no dogmatism outside of religion. We know that is not true. Many people accuse socialists of being dogmatic. In fact, socialists accuse each other of the same thing. Instead of looking at dogmatism as connected to content, to a particular set of beliefs, suppose we treat dogmatism as a process that can be applied to any set of beliefs?  It is tempting to think that dogmatism would be more likely to be on the right-wing side of the political spectrum but moderates or leftist can be just as dogmatic. Here In Mordor, the neoliberal Democratic Party’s commitment to free market fundamentalism is a great example center-right dogmatist.

Interpersonal experience of talking to a dogmatists

When we think of arguing with a dogmatic person what is the experience like for us?  For one thing, the person we’re talking with is overly certain that they are right. Going back and forth with them is not perceived as a dialectical process whereby new knowledge is created. Rather, it is like a king of the hill battle with each trying to take down the other. Closely related to this overconfidence in argument is a dualistic way of posing the problems. You are either right or wrong. There is nothing in between. There is no middle ground, no messiness. Dogmatic thinkers are rigid in their structures.

This article will follow Judy J. Johnson’s book What’s So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief. Judy Johnson identifies fourteen characteristics of dogmatic thinking. Five include mental predispositions, four have to do with emotional disorders and the rest having to do with behavior. In Part II of this article, we will identify the causes of dogmatism, covering the fields of sociology, psychology, bio-evolutionary Darwinism and physiology.

Dogmatism and a Family of Resemblances

Working towards a brief definition, dogmatism is a characteristic that combines cognitive, emotional and behavioral characteristics that result in prejudicial closed-minded belief systems that are pronounced with rigid certainty. It is driven by a) emotional anxiety, b) cognitive narrowness, and c) energized behavior. However, It is true that in stressful situations most of us will have some of these features but not as a way of life.  In the average person fatigue, boredom, depression and illness might also produce dogmatism, but only temporarily. A dogmatist will claim to know things with certainty without evidence. A radical skeptic says we can know nothing unless it is certain. Neither dogmatists nor skeptics conduct open-minded inquiry. An open-minded person will say that while nothing is certain, some facts are closer to certainty than others.

Dogmatists are not the same as fanatics

According to Bob Altemeyer in his book Authoritarian Specter, dogmatists, fanatics and zealots are soulmates with some distinctions. He says that fanatics and zealots show excessive frenzied enthusiasm for beliefs that have an absurd or bizarre quality. While some dogmatists are likely to share some of these beliefs, most do not have the emotional extreme dimension of a fanatic or zealot. In general, fanatics occupy what has been called the lunatic fringe, while dogmatists appears relatively more moderate in their beliefs and they imply less dramatic action. Political or religious zealous dogmatists can move society in extraordinary directions. People championing religious beliefs had the highest zealot and highest DOG scores in Altemeyer’s research.

Critical thinking is not the opposite of dogmatic thinking

Johnson points out that although much has been written about how to promote critical thinking skills like inductive and deductive reasoning, abstract analysis, synthesis and evaluation of data, less attention has been given to the deeper psychological conditions that seriously impair one’s ability to think critically at all. Johnson point out that dogmatists can take a class in critical thinking, but if unmet sociological, psychological and biological needs are pushing them in dogmatic directions, their minds will not be sufficiently open to turn theory into practice beyond the class.

Dogmatic vs Openminded Thinking

Fourteen characteristics of dogmatic thinking

  1. Intolerance of ambiguity: black and white, either/or thinking
  2. Defense cognitive closure (having barbed wire around declarations)
  3. Rigid certainty (cannot state the conditions for being proven wrong)
  4. Compartmentalization: sealing off contradictory beliefs
  5. Lack of self-reflectiveness: refusal to bend-back and analyze themselves
  6. Belief associated with anxiety or fear (they underestimate their ability to cope)
  7. Lack of a sense of humor to keep perspective
  8. If humor is used, it is sarcasm at own or others’ expense
  9. Belief associated with anger: oversensitivity to unintentional infringements
  10. Excessive pessimism
  11. Preoccupation with power and status
  12. Glorification of in-group vilification of out-group
  13. Authoritarian submission: excessive obedience and blind trust of authorities
  14. Authoritarian aggression towards minorities
  15. Arrogant, dismissive communication style

Openminded thinking

People who are open-mindedness have little need to change the beliefs and values of people who think differently, unless opposing beliefs directly threaten their own or others’ freedom. They confront the issue, not the person, rarely infer motives for an opponent’s stated beliefs or jump to conclusions when someone changes the topic. Johnson notes that dogmatism should not be confused with open-minded, passionate social activism which creates popular movements. Open-minded people speak out, they do not lash out.

They are willing to suspend judgment and admit they do not know. They explore multiple points of view and are less preoccupied with social conventions. Open-minded people are not easily manipulated by propaganda. They are less vulnerable to external reinforcements like flattery or bribery. Because they are self-reflective they can recognize when their personal needs shape, control, or distort information. When a truth seems to be discovered, their approach is conditional, probable, not absolute, and final. Cognitively flexible adults are more likely to have been raised by parents who enabled them to feel securely attached. Table A at the end of the article compares the fourteen characteristics of dogmatic thinking with my interpretation based on Judy Johnson’s description of what open-mindedness would look like.

Historical Background of Dogmatism Research

Little was written about dogmatism as a distinct personality disposition until the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany when Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich sought to understand why Germans were drawn to Hitler. In reaction to fascism in the 1930s, Adorno wrote The Authoritarian Personality in 1950. He was criticized because his scale only measured the authoritarian right-wingers.

Milton Rokeach is credited with the first attempt to correct the problems inherent in the F scale in his book The Open and Closed Mind (1960). His questionnaire was assumed to accurately measure dogmatism independently of ideological places on the political or religious spectrum. Rokeach is acknowledged to have made the first attempt to piece together the complex psychology of dogmatism, but his approach was limited to descriptions and measurement. He did not elaborate on the causal influences. Johnson notes Rokeach had nothing on physiological predispositions, or evolutionary predispositions. Neither did he account for early childhood development, parenting styles, social learning and how cultural institutions influence open vs closed thinking. His main contribution was that dogmatism is not merely a cognitive deficiency. How good is Rokeach’s research? It is not a valid, internally consistent measure of dogmatism. Why not? It lacks validity and reliability.

Altemeyer did extensive research into right wing authoritarianism in Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism (1988) and in the  Authoritarian Spector (1996). His research methods are very rigorous.

His definition calls dogmatism unjustified certainty, not as an unchangeable mind (Rokeach). His other questionnaires that are pertinent to dogmatisms include:

  1. The Right wing authoritarian scale
  2. Left wing authoritarian scale
  3. The religious fundamentalism scale
  4. Attitude towards homosexuality scale
  5. Posse against radicals
  6. Zealot scale

The most important criticism of Altemeyer’s work is that his scale does not tap the emotional and behavioral characteristics of dogmatism. It is limited to a measure of cognitive style.

We will now begin our review of the 14 characteristics of a dogmatic personality.

Five Cognitive Ingredients in Dogmatic Thought

The  Five Characteristics of Dogmatic Cognition are:

  1. Intolerance of ambiguity (either/or thinking) due to anxiety
  2. Defense cognitive closure
  3. Rigid certainty – composure
  4. Compartmentation (sealing off contradictory beliefs)
  5. Lack of self-reflectiveness

Johnson claims  the tendency to simplify thought is the granddaddy of dogmatism and that accompanies all five cognitive characteristics. Each of the five characteristics fail to thoroughly acknowledge and investigate complicated issues. Conceptual complexity is the degree to which we can consider several dimensions of a problem or argument at once. This is called differentiation. The second element of cognitive complexity is recognizing commonalities among the components within those dimensions. This is called integration.

Intolerance of Ambiguity: Black and White Thinking

Central beliefs begin in childhood as bipolar generalizations about the external world, other people and oneself. Central beliefs also reflect worldviews that are initially derived from parents and expanded or modified by teachers, religious leaders, peer groups, cultural and political institutions, social myths and cultural rituals. But some adults (dogmatists) remain at the level of bipolar generalizations. For example, the borderline personality exhibits cognitive splitting in which the person splits abstract concepts into dichotomous polarized compartments. This is similar to the trait compartmentalization of dogmatism

The absent of a spectrum between dogmatic acceptance and cynicism

Our belief and disbelief systems consist of a spectrum stretching from deep commitment to moderate commitment to skepticism and ultimately to cynicism. Dogmatic people have greater gaps between their belief and disbelief in the middle of the spectrum. In the case of religion, Johnston says extreme dogmatist even reject related religious beliefs. She reports that when fundamentalists are away from home, they are not likely to attend services in the only Christian church available if the Church is a different denomination.Should questions arise about an entirely different religion, dogmatic believers would prefer to consult their own parishioners rather than read and discuss dissimilar tenants with authoritative sources for that religion.

Sudden vs gradual changes in belief

Old beliefs are replaced suddenly (not gradually) with an unquestioning embrace of new ones presented by dazzling, prestigious authority figures. Religious dogmatists avoid analyzing and synthesizing old beliefs and new beliefs.  When faced with doubt, they seek religious revivalists’ movements that offer a chance for a fresh beginning wherein the contradictions between the old and new beliefs are left to fester while being papered over by the new ideology.

Need for Certainty

While the human desire for clarity, predictability and safety during times of change and stress is normal, dogmatists transform these natural desires into dire necessities.

Dogmatic systems claims to absolute certainty are generally not evidence-based claims. For example, Karl Popper, one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers of science, writes that there are three criteria for scientific evidence:

  1. It must be able to generate predictions
  2. It must be capable of being tested and falsified
  3. It must survive attempts at refutation

Dogmatic certainty does not feel compelled to make predictions, make claims falsifiable or respond to the refutation points of an adversary by modifying their original claim.

In their need for certainty, dogmatists have learned to suppress their anxious feelings behind rigid proclamations of absolute truth. For the dogmatist, not knowing is an embarrassment that must be concealed. As an antidote to fear, ignorance and powerlessness, dogmatism calms the mind.

Defensive Cognitive Closure

Defensive cognitive closure is like having barbed wire around a declaration and daring their adversity to climb over it. The use of “only” is a likely indicator. In science, when scientists say some social or psychological phenomenon is nothing but chemistry or physics, they are laying down the gauntlet. Humble admissions of hesitation or qualification or suspending judgments are seen as signs of stupidity. Sadly, this can apply to Marxists who refuse to stay current in anthropology and trot out the old anthropology of Marx and Engels that is 150 years old while refusing to incorporate new findings. They present the same stage theory of history over and over again. Failing to acknowledge how far they have fallen behind, they mask ignorance with cynicism about new theories or research findings.


Compartmentalization occurs when a person seals off beliefs that contradict the main networks of belief and keeps them from interacting with those main sets of beliefs. An easy example of this is a football fan who is loyal to his team no matter what because the team plays in the fan’s locality. Someone reminds him that the players on his football team and the owners are not from the same location as the fan. The fan acknowledges this, but never allows these facts to enter into the part of his mind that is loyal to his team. Evidence of non-local residence on the part of the players and the owners is isolated and quarantined. Johnson gives another example. Christians support war and the extralegal use of torture while refusing to acknowledge that these practices contradict their supposed support for universal rights.

Lack of Self-reflectiveness

Dogmatists are anti-psychologists. They are not curious about what might be going on in the minds of others and they are uninterested in their own internal life, whether it be thoughts, emotions, goals, drives and any contradictions that might exist between them. When they make a mistake and if they admit they were in the wrong, they do not think about their history of making mistakes and what they could do to correct them. They might say something like “what’s the point of mulling over regrets. What’s done is done”.

This same lack of insight applies to their perception of the minds of others.

Dogmatists will not understand why some people do not like them or try to avoid them. Chances are they will externalize the problem and blame their friend rather than look at the problem dialectically, as the result of both the other person and themselves. Dogmatists have poor listening and conversation skills yet demand attention. Johnson claims that lack of personal insight is a dogmatist’s greatest wound.

Four Emotional Characteristics of Dogmatic Thought.

We now turn to the emotional dimensions of dogmatism. Unlike feelings, which are transient, emotions are more enduring. In part because dogmatic people are uninterested in their own minds they have little sense the power of their mind (whether interpretations, explanations of assumptions) has in controlling their emotions. Dogmatic people do not have emotions that come and go. Emotions are perceived as an alien force over which they have no control. For dogmatic people emotions have them. They say things like “once I get wound up in a heated discussion, I just can’t stop”.

Johnson claims that there are four emotional needs that dogmatists are trying to satisfy. The first is the need to know that things connected to perceived survival are relatively stable. Exploring subjects that are not immediately connected to that are perceived as a threat. Therefore, curiosity is looked down on or punished. The second need is to defend against anxiety. Johnson says domineering parents who impose arbitrary rules, who criticize, ridicule, threaten and inflict ruthless discipline and physical abuse leave the child feeling shameful and unwanted. A reaction formation emerges as a shield for anxiety. A wall of contrived certainty barricades the anxiety within.

The third need is for a stable social connection. Chronic doubts about status within groups interferes with the ability to engage in complex cognitive processing. Socially anxious people have difficulty starting and sustaining a quality discussion with others because they are preoccupied with how the other person is evaluating them. Lastly the dogmatist, like everyone, needs to feel a common dignity. However, instead of dignity coming from self-perception, dignity is sought after in groups. Because their status in groups is unstable, they are less likely to find dignity within them, except if it is a special kind of group, as we will see.

According to Johnson, the four emotional ingredients of dogmatism are:

  1. Anxiety and fear
  2. Lack of a sense of humor
  3. Oversensitivity to unintended infringements which result in anger
  4. Excessive pessimism and despair

Anxiety and Fear

Johnson argues that dogmatists are driven emotionally by fear and anxiety. Their dogmatism is designed to protect them against these emotions. They lack confidence that on their own they can cope with events that come their way. Because they cannot tolerate ambiguity, they catastrophize events that are mildly unpleasant as dangerous and worth armoring themselves against while arming themselves against others. Anxious people seem unable to clearly process events. Politically they are very susceptible to political authorities who pander to their fear. Instead of politicians being models of grounded optimism and calmness, we have fear-mongering melodramas. Leaders like Trump can potentially turn dogmatists into fascists.

Lack of a Sense of Humor

Having a sense of humor means you can step out of situations and see them in perspective. Humor allows for a break in being serious before returning to serious endeavors. Lack of humor (being humorless) means you are serious all the time. Being dead serious can wear a person out. As we will see in the section on dogmatic behavior, dogmatic people have status anxiety, so that humor at another person or at a group’s expense will be seized on. When they laugh at all, the dogmatist laughs at people, not with people.

Oversensitivity to Unintended Infringements Which Result in Anger

In part, because the dogmatist has status anxiety he is constantly unsure of how others are perceiving him. This is why he responds well to military life since there a person knows their rank and what is expected of them. But in civilian life relations between people are vague and the dogmatic person wants social relations to be crystal clear. Because they lack a sense of play and humor, they cannot imagine that vague behavior done to them was unintentional. Dogmatic people are likely to have bad cases of road rage. When someone cuts them off, they immediately take it personally. “They did that deliberately”. They do not easily think situationally. The person might be late for work, not paying attention for their exit, or having to rush to the hospital. For them, everything is personal and interpersonal. Dogmatists with guns are more likely to be trigger happy. “Nobody fucks with me”. They can’t give people the benefit of the doubt. To do so is the same as to showing weakness. Johnson says,

Those who are low self-monitors (self-reflectors) are often unaware of gestures and facial expressions that transition their words but may provide additional unintended meanings. Innocuous questions become red alerts to their adrenal glands. Simple inquiries are twisted into accusations. (227)

Excessive Pessimism and Despair

Lastly, dogmatists have a pessimistic view of human nature which includes themselves as well. Whenever the dogmatists examine things, their refrain is mostly, ”it has always been this way”. Dogmatists do not like change, and their hope is to make the present the past as soon as possible. There the present can be fit into the rigid categories the dogmatist has built for them.

Summing up, on an emotional level, the functions of dogmatic belief systems are the reduction of fear and anxiety, building up pride, status and smugness in groups, and protection against feeling joy or hope. If dogmatists feel these emotions, they fall further down when things don’t work out. The dogmatist would rather experience a steady, low-grade pessimism than roll with the ups and downs of life as an open-minded person might.

Five Behavioral Characteristics of Dogmatism

Dogmatism is not just what is going cognitively and emotionally. Dogmatism is also  about how people behave and act. The five behavioral characteristics of dogmatism are:

  1. An arrogant, dismissive communication style
  2. Preoccupation with power and status
  3. Glorification of the in-group and vilification of the out-group
  4. Dogmatic authoritarian submission to authorities
  5. Dogmatic authoritarian aggression towards minorities

An arrogant, dismissive communication style

Although a dogmatist may not be very good at it, they will attempt to use pretentious, pompous language to impress or intimidate someone in discussions with others. Johnson says dogmatists have a hard time following and incorporating aspects of a discussion as they go. A spontaneous back-and-forth flow of conversation might mean the dogmatist’s failure to keep up without woodenly and awkwardly superimposing their beliefs into the conversation. Johnson says dogmatists have a short temper and machine-gun style of communication. They talk at others, not with them. They don’t listen carefully because they are getting ready to make their next point. She says disagreements elicit sighs, frowns and rolling eyes, a rigid body posture and a strident voice. This dismissive communication manner papers over individual and group fears of being exposed as inadequate, insignificant, wrong, ignorant or stupid. Built into dogmatism is a false pride that functions as a defense against being found out.

Preoccupation with power and status

Uncertainty in one’s place in the class, race or gender hierarchy leads to attempts to either stabilize one’s place, or move up in the hierarchy. Forms of behavior include emulation, keeping up with the Joneses, name-dropping or reifying official titles. Johnson reports that on being introduced to someone the dogmatist immediately wants to know the kind of work the person does, where they live, and what their race, ethnicity is. They are drawn to professions that reward them with visible displays of status, believing that uniforms and badges grant instant authority and respect. Up to a point this makes evolutionary sense as natural selection rewarded social learners who observed and copied the most successful individuals. However, since good people can have low status and bad people can have high status, getting answers to the dogmatists’ questions does not guarantee a predictable response. But for the dogmatist bent on labels, this can lead to prejudicial thoughts and/or discriminatory actions.

Johnson points out that dogmatists have a desperate need to achieve identity, the respect of others, the presence of self-esteem and dignity. A group that not only welcomes but panders to those whose self is inconsistent or fragmented with privileged status and instant dignity becomes powerfully appealing to brittle identities.

Glorification of the in-group and vilification of the out-group

Johnson writes that the size of the group membership alone sometimes gives the group legitimacy in the minds of anxious people. When a social system disintegrates to the extent that people lose their group identity and shared values, they become anxious and vulnerable to joining clearly structures groups that are hierarchically ordered. This seems to be the case if they suspect that by joining the group, they will abdicate personal responsibility for assessing the logic of group objectives. These are the circumstances in which the most despicable deeds occur. Authoritarian in-groups also involve being nationalist or even fascist.

Just as there is one and only one dogma and the rest are either false or evil, so too the group that shares the same dogma (the in-group) is good and any group outside of it is demonic. Everything is us vs them, never an expanding, evolving we. Those who are dogmatic cannot distinguish between the social authority and the qualities of the individual person. Either they think the information is true because they respect the authority or the information is false because they distrust the authority. They cannot seem to tolerate instances where an author they respect is wrong or lying or an authority they normally distrust could be telling the truth.

According to Bob Altemeyer in his book The Authoritarian Specter, authoritarianism means the principle of blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual autonomy in thinking and acting. He defines authoritarianism as the co-variation of three kinds of attitudes:

  1. Authoritarian submission to established authorities
  2. Authoritarian aggression against anyone the authorities target
  3. Conventionalism adhered to by society and established by authorities

Dogmatic authoritarian submission to authorities

Albert Bandura spent the better part of his career in social psychology trying to understand the relationship between violence on television and its transition to real life. Bandura’s major concepts of observation and modelling lay emphasis on the influential power of role models who have three characteristics: they are attractive, appear to be an expert and they have power (perhaps political). But dogmatists are attracted to characters who do things that most people would consider immoral and they are not punished. This can apply to parents, peers, authority figures or prestigious people.

Self-efficacy is the individual’s belief that he or she can generate and coordinate the necessary thoughts, emotions, social skills and behaviors required to achieve their goals. Dogmatic authoritarian submission appeals to people who feel the lack self-efficacy. Hence, they are attracted to authorities who are successful at getting away with things that do not require the efficacy that dogmatists themselves lack.

Authoritarian submitters represent extremes of ingratiating loyalty. This can be seen in German soldiers following orders to kill six million Jews. “I was only following orders” they say. It can be seen in results like the Milgram experiment when many more people “went all the way” in shocking the participants than any psychologist had predicted. We find it in the behavior of all the followers of the cults of the 1970s to 1990s from the Peoples Temple to scientology to the Democratic Workers’ Party. Lastly, we can see it in the US soldiers’ treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo.

Dogmatic authoritarian aggression towards minorities

Altemeyer found that high scorers view the world as a dangerous, fearful place. They felt threatened that racial diversity programs at work or in education might destabilize their identity. The typical things authoritarians will say is “some kids just need a good whuppin” or “Increased crime and drug use is caused by parents and educators who are too soft on discipline”. They might say, that immigrants are taking our jobs. Since dogmatists typically do not care or follow science or the scientific method, they might not be aware that race theory has been shown to be false. They might say these terrorists need to be taught a lesson, not understanding that most people in the world today think the United States is a terrorist state.

If you haven’t already done so, please see how the fourteen dogmatic characteristics of personality compare to a personality that is open-minded in Table A at the end of this article.

Coming Attractions

In part two, we will examine the causes that make the dogmatic personality the way they are. Economies can be expanding and prosperous or they can be contracting with tight labor markets. Which might produce a higher percentage of dogmatic people and why? Do dogmatic people cut across all social classes or are they more likely to be found in some classes more than others? How much might parenting styles impact the likelihood that people will become dogmatic? What about PTSD experiences such as witnessing death in wars, torture and rape? Is there any relationship between PTSD and dogmatism? What might that relationship be? The overwhelming number of people are religious, yet openminded people will not relate to their religion in a dogmatic way. What kind of religion will dogmatists be drawn to?

What can personality theory tell us about dogmatism? What might the theories of  Alfred Adler, Karen Horney and Erik Erikson tell us about the dogmatic personality? Cognitive psychologists have identified four levels of cognition: negative automatic thoughts, distorted cognitive interpretations, pessimistic explanatory styles and irrational assumptions. There is a definite relationship between these cognitive liabilities and dogmatism.

Lastly, is there anything biological involved in dogmatism? Is there a gene for dogmatism? In evolutionary theory human beings strive for both dominance and cooperation as well as for aggressiveness and sociality. How might dogmatism fit into this? Physiologically some people are predisposed to anxiety and others have an overly active amygdala. What might this have to do with dogmatism? As it turns out, lack of oxytocin and dopamine are connected to dogmatism, but how? Discover answers to all these questions in Part II.

Table A Dogmatic vs Openminded Thinking

Dogmatic Thinking Examples of Dogmatism Open-minded Thinking
1) Intolerance of ambiguity

Black and white


“I’m sticking to my guns”

“Once I make up my mind…”

“You’re either with the terrorists or you’re with us”

Tolerance of ambiguity

Can suspend judgment

2) Defense cognitive closure

(Having barbed wire around declarations)

“Only an ignoramus or someone stupid would think otherwise” Open, inviting a response
3)  Rigid certainty

Cannot state conditions of being proved wrong.

“There is no doubt in my mind” Flexibility

Qualifying statements

Falsification – stating conditions where you could be proven wrong

4)    Compartmentalization

Sealing off contradictory beliefs

“My country right or wrong”

Suppressing the atrocities over history

American dream today

Dialectically using contradictions to create new knowledge
5)    Lack of self-


Refusal to bend-back and analyze themselves

“The reason I got fired was that my boss was out to get me.” Self-reflective of one’s own part in creating problems
6) Belief associated with anxiety or fear

(they underestimate their ability to cope)

“If they leave me I will never recover” Curiosity and confidence in their ability to cope
7) Lack of a sense of humor to keep perspective


If humor is used, it is sarcasm to undermine the gravity of the situation




Making jokes about getting fired

Uses humor to keep things in perspective
8) Belief associated with anger.

Oversensitivity to unintentional infringements

Road rage

“They cut me off intentionally”

Does emotional work

Gives people the benefit of the doubt

9) Excessive Pessimism “Things have always been this way“

“There is nothing I can do”

“People are selfish”


Moderate optimism, not pollyannish

10) Pre-occupation with power and status Emulation – keeping up appearances


Fetishizing official titles

Is aware of, but not preoccupied with status and power
11) Glorification of in-group

Vilification of out- group


Racism – immigrants are taking our jobs


Critical of in-group

Welcoming of out-group

12) Authoritarian aggression

Towards minorities

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”

“These terrorists need to be taught a lesson”

Assertive, not aggressive

Sympathetic to minorities

13) Authoritarian submission


Excessive obedience and blind trust of authorities

German soldiers following orders

Cult participants following leaders

Critical of the authorities
14) Arrogant dismissive communication style “You’re in no position to talk” Open to what is strange or appears to be a problem


About Bruce Lerro

Bruce Lerro has taught for 25 years as an adjunct college professor of psychology at Golden Gate University, Dominican University and Diablo Valley College. He has applied a Vygotskian socio-historical perspective to his five books: "From Earth-Spirits to Sky-Gods: the Socio-ecological Origins of Monotheism, Individualism and Hyper-Abstract Reasoning", "Power in Eden: The Emergence of Gender Hierarchies in the Ancient World" (co-authored with Christopher Chase-Dunn), "Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present", "Lucifer's Labyrinth: Individualism, Hyper-Abstract Thinking and the Process of Becoming Civilized", and "The Magickal Enchantment of Materialism: Why Marxists Need Neopaganism". He is also a representational artist specializing in pen-and-ink drawings. Bruce is a libertarian communist and lives in Olympia, WA.

View all posts by Bruce Lerro →

One Comment on “The Dogmatic Personality: Cognitive, Emotional and Behavioral Dimensions”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *