Bob Altemeyer

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Bob Altemeyer
Born(1940-06-06)6 June 1940
Died7 February 2024(2024-02-07) (aged 83)[1]
AwardsAAAS Prize for Behavioral Science Research
Academic background
Alma materCarnegie Mellon University
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Manitoba
Main interestsResearch into authoritarianism

Robert Anthony Altemeyer (6 June 1940 – 7 February 2024) was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba.[2][3] Altemeyer also produced the right-wing authoritarianism scale, or RWA Scale,[4] as well as the related left-wing authoritarianism scale, or LWA Scale.[5]

He first defined the right-wing authoritarian personality in 1981,[6] as a refinement of the authoritarian personality theory originally pioneered by University of California, Berkeley researchers Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford.[7] Altemeyer defined the right-wing authoritarian personality as someone who:

  1. is naturally submissive to authority figures that they consider to be legitimate,
  2. acts aggressively in the name of said authority figures, and/or
  3. is very conventional (i.e. conformist) in thought and behavior.[6]

He performed extensive research on authoritarianism, identifying the psychological makeup of authoritarian followers, and authoritarian leaders. His studies concentrated on who the followers are, how they got that way, how they think, and why they tend to be submissive and aggressive. He also collected data on authoritarianism among North American politicians.[8]

He documented his research in several books, most recently written for general audiences in The Authoritarians at the suggestion of John W. Dean.[9][10] Altemeyer's work is referenced in Dean's 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience.[4][11] Altemeyer's last book, Authoritarian Nightmare, co-written by Dean,[12] is a book about U.S. President Donald Trump and his authoritarian followers.


Altemeyer was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Behavioral Science Research in 1986.[13]

Personal life[edit]

His son, Rob Altemeyer, was an NDP MLA in the Manitoba Legislature from 2003 to 2019.[14]


On 10 February 2024, his website informed its readers that he had died.[15]


  • Dean, John; Altemeyer, Bob (2020). Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers. Brooklyn: Melville House. ISBN 978-1612199054.
  • Altemeyer, Bob (2009). Sex and Youth: A Twenty-Four Year Investigation. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba. OCLC 516955225.
  • Altemeyer, Bob (2006). The Authoritarians. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba. OCLC 191061772. and several subsequent postscripts: Comment on the 2008 election,[16] Comment on the Tea Party movement[17] and a short comment on Donald Trump.[18]
  • Hunsberger, Bruce; Altemeyer, Bob (2006). Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America's Nonbelievers. Amherst: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1591024132.
  • Altemeyer, Bob; Hunsberger, Bruce (1997). Amazing Conversions: Why Some Turn to Faith and Others Abandon Religion. Amherst: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573921473.
  • Altemeyer, Bob (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-05305-2.
  • Altemeyer, Bob (1988). Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism. Mississauga: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-1555420970.
  • Altemeyer, Bob (1981). Right-Wing Authoritarianism. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press. ISBN 0-88755-124-6.


  1. ^ "Robert Anthony Altemeyer". Passages. Winnipeg Free Press. 2024-02-17. Retrieved 2024-02-21.
  2. ^ "University of Manitoba directory, Psychology Faculty".
  3. ^ Bielski, Zosia (3 September 2009). "The myths that surround sexuality and university students". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b "The Hard Right" (30 July 2006). Review of Conservatives without conscience by Nick Gillespie. The New York Times.
  5. ^ Altemeyer, Bob (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. pp. 216–234. ISBN 0-674-05305-2.
  6. ^ a b "Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA)". APA Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. n.d. Retrieved 18 October 2021. A theoretical refinement of the theory of the authoritarian personality that identifies political conservatism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism as key predictors of prejudice, racism, and right-wing extremism. [first proposed in 1981 by Canadian social psychologist Robert A. Altemeyer]
  7. ^ Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., Sanford, R. N. (1950). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper and Row.
  8. ^ "Measuring the authoritarian mind-set of Trump's followers". Washington Post.
  9. ^ Altemeyer (2006)
  10. ^ "Website for the book: Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians".
  11. ^ Dean, John W. Conservatives Without Conscience (2006). Viking. New York. ISBN 0670037745.
  12. ^ (2020) Melville Publishing House, Brooklyn, NY. ISBN 978-1-61219-905-4
  13. ^ "AAAS History & Archives: Prize for Behavioral Science Research, Bob Altemeyer (1986)".
  14. ^ "Today's NDP: Rob Altemeyer, your MLA for Wolseley" Archived 2012-08-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Update". The Authoritarians. 2024-02-10. Retrieved 2024-02-12. I regret to inform readers that Bob Altemeyer has passed away.
  16. ^ Altemeyer, Bob. "Postscript on the 2008 election" (PDF). Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  17. ^ Altemeyer, Bob. "Comment on the Tea Party movement" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  18. ^ Altemeyer, Bob. "Comment on Donald Trump". Retrieved 31 March 2016.

External links[edit]