A Psychological Profile of the Alt-Right

Patrick S. Forscher*, Nour S. Kteily

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The 2016 U.S. presidential election coincided with the rise of the “alternative right,” or alt-right. Alt-right associates have wielded considerable influence on the current administration and on social discourse, but the movement’s loose organizational structure has led to disparate portrayals of its members’ psychology and made it difficult to decipher its aims and reach. To systematically explore the alt-right’s psychology, we recruited two U.S. samples: An exploratory sample through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N = 827, alt-right n = 447) and a larger, nationally representative sample through the National Opinion Research Center’s Amerispeak panel (N = 1,283, alt-right n = 71–160, depending on the definition). We estimate that 6% of the U.S. population and 10% of Trump voters identify as alt-right. Alt-right adherents reported a psychological profile more reflective of the desire for group-based dominance than economic anxiety. Although both the alt-right and non-alt-right Trump voters differed substantially from non-alt-right, non-Trump voters, the alt-right and Trump voters were quite similar, differing mainly in the alt-right’s especially high enthusiasm for Trump, suspicion of mainstream media, trust in alternative media, and desire for collective action on behalf of Whites. We argue for renewed consideration of overt forms of bias in contemporary intergroup research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-116
Number of pages27
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

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Keywords

  • alt-right
  • extremism
  • intergroup relations
  • political psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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