Religion, prejudice, and authoritarianism: Is RWA a boon or bane to the psychology of religion?

Kenneth I. Mavor*, Winnifred R. Louis, Brian Laythe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In research on religiosity and prejudice, right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) has been studied alongside variables such as fundamentalism and orthodoxy. Four concerns regarding research on the relationship between RWA and religiosity are identified: (1) the overlap of religiosity and prejudice within the RWA scale; (2) the inflation of relationships by correlating part-whole measures; (3) covariation in the extremes of the construct hiding the possible independence of components within RWA; and (4) statistical artifacts arising in multiple regression from the combination of these factors. We elaborate these four issues and then demonstrate how they can lead to different interpretations of some previously published data. The article concludes with suggestions for the management and resolution of these issues that may allow RWA to continue to be used in religiosity and prejudice research and how it might evolve to become the boon to researchers that they seek.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-43
Number of pages22
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Orientation
  • Homosexuality
  • Right-wing authoritarianism
  • Personality
  • Prejudice
  • Measurement
  • Fundamentalism
  • Lessons
  • Attitudes
  • Social-dominance
  • Religiosity
  • Christian orthodoxy
  • Identification


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