The relevance of evolutionary psychology


The authoritarian personality developed by Else Frenkiel Brunswik, D.Lewson and N (Altemeyer, 1996). Sanford attempting to explain the authoritarian trait predisposed to a strong leader and conventional values that are traditional was later modified by Altemeyer. Right wing authoritarianism was considered as a refinement of the authoritarian personality. Altemeyer pegged his findings on three aspects authoritarian submission, aggression and conventionalism (Altemeyer, 1996).

These aspects according to Altemeyer (1996) define what is called right wing authoritarianism (RWA).

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Typical to right wing authoritarianism are the following three aspects:

Authoritarian submission which defines a fanatical submission to legitimately installed authorities within the society.

Authoritarian aggression defining the attitude to those perceived as deviants from the installed authority within the society.

Conventionalism defining the radical adherence to traditions and social norms established by the society and authorities. Under conventionalism there is a collective belief that all should adhere to these norms. Right wing need not necessarily refer to an individual’s political inclinations but rather points to the psychological or personality inclination.

This means that the individual in question is only likely to abide by established conventions and societal authorities. Authoritarianism right or left has its essence in the fact that the society will tend to be defined on either side of the authoritarian coin.

However, important research findings indicate that an authoritarian approach favours established ways while opposing political and social changes within a society. Being a personality factor, authoritarianism may not directly map on to politics and hence right or left wing politics may not be descriptive as such.

Evolutionary default a case of why men have nipples

The concept of evolutionary default can be discussed using a query like the question of why men have nipples. Such a question will require evolutionary biologists to provide adaptive explanations to explain diversity in nature. Some personality may be proved by appropriate tests explained as adaptations. However, some are evolutionary oriented though nonadaptive in their explanations.

This is because evolution is a process constrained by many factors including history, chance, and the mechanisms of heredity, which also explains why particular attributes of organisms are not as they would be, had they been “designed” from scratch. Nipples in male mammals illustrate a constrained evolutionary result (Simons, 2003, p.1).

As we infer from genetics a human baby inherits a copy of every gene from both parents. This is the likely determinant as to why men have nipples. This is what is termed as a genetic correlation, and which primarily interests evolutionary geneticists. It has therefore been observed, “evolutionary default is for males and females to share characters through genetic correlations” (Simons 2003, p.1).

Evolutionary default hence defines a situation where certain traits are passed on to the offspring largely due to genetic correlation, which is a combined contribution from the parental genes. These traits can be defined psychologically as well (Cosmides & Tobby, 1997).


Today it is not uncommon to hear about the bombings, militia activities, religious fundamentalism and reactions against equal rights activities which are representative of the authoritarianism trait. Accordingly, the optimism concerning authoritarian as posed by Altemeyer as a threat to representative democracy is not warranted.

This is because authoritarianism is a psychological factor whose bearing on issues of politics and democracy is not directly correlated. Right wing or left wing is largely a personality or psychological matter and may not be political. Furthermore, it is not impossible to prove that every ordinary person today is psychologically pre disposed to embrace anti democratic policies (Altemeyer, 2007).


Altemeyer, R. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Cambridge MA : Harvard University Press.

Altemeyer, B. (2007). The authoritarians. Winnipeg, Manitoba : Bob Altemeyer.

Cosmides, L., & Tobby, J. (1997). Evolutionary psychology primer. Retrieved from

Simons, A.M. (2003).Why do men have nipples: Scientific American. Retrieved from


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