December 10, 2023

The study suggests that individuals with authoritarian political views are more concerned about terrorism and border control than a future health pandemic. The study also highlights that those with authoritarian views rejected a stronger government response during the pandemic and embraced individual autonomy. The research, conducted by Prof. Dan Stevens, Prof. Susan Banducci, and Dr. Laszlo Horvath, presents a new perspective on individual-level authoritarian perceptions of security threats. It challenges traditional claims linking increased security threats with more authoritarian responses, arguing that it is actually libertarians who adopt more authoritarian responses in contexts of increased security threats. The study, published in the journal Politics and the Life Sciences, reexamined claims that authoritarian individuals responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in a counterintuitive fashion. It found that those with authoritarian views were less concerned about the pandemic and its consequences, as it did not threaten social norms or damage social cohesion in the same way immigration does. The research also examined public perceptions of security threats in 2012 and 2020, finding that COVID-19 did not significantly affect authoritarian concern about social divisions in British society. The study, titled “Authoritarianism, perceptions of security threats, and the COVID-19 pandemic: A new perspective,” emphasizes that different security threats should not be treated as alike. The study surveyed public perceptions of various issues and found that the personal threat from health pandemics and environmental issues significantly increased between 2012 and 2020. Additionally, immigration was seen as a greater threat by authoritarians in 2020. Overall, the study challenges traditional beliefs about the relationship between authoritarian views and responses to security threats.