Conway and his colleagues created a Left-Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) scale by rewriting the RWA to be targeted toward acceptance of liberal authoritarian leaders. For example, an item from the standard RWA scale reads: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds.” In the LWA scale, this was adapted to read: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in science with respect to issues like global warming and evolution than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds.”
The researchers then administered their new LWA scale to several hundred college students and to several hundred other people recruited via Mechanical Turk. Participants filled out questionnaires on their political and ideological predilections, measuring among other things their prejudices about religious and racial minorities, their tendency toward dogmatism, and the strength of their convictions.
Once all of the numbers were crunched, the researchers’ results were consistent with the authoritarianism symmetry hypothesis. In fact, after sorting participants into conservatives and liberals based on whether they scored in the top or bottom half of a 10-point conservatism scale, the researchers found that “the highest score for authoritarianism was for liberals on LWA.”
“Our data suggest that average Americans on the political left are just as likely to be dogmatic authoritarians as those on the political right. And those left-wing authoritarians can be just as prejudiced, dogmatic, and extremist as right-wing authoritarians,” Conway tells PsyPost.