Authoritarianism can be a difficult trait to live with.
The authoritarianism is more than a form of government in which a person or privileged few. There are also authoritarian people; They are those that, consciously or unconsciously, tend to reproduce behaviors in which their own criteria are to be imposed on that of others without worrying about justifying why they should be obeyed.
Identifying authoritarian people is relevant both outside the psychological intervention and within it. In the latter case, doing this makes it possible to establish a communication channel with them and jointly see how this type of trend could be corrected.
How to recognize authoritarian people
The way in which authoritarian people try to try to hold power and direct the decisions and actions of others can often go unnoticed. After all, many of them do not have the means to impose their will by force directly, so they try to influence others in more subtle ways and in ways in which they often do not have to realize themselves. detrimental to their behavior.
However, it is worth keeping in mind what are the characteristics of authoritarian people, both to identify them in other people who could be a bad influence and to review the possibility that we ourselves fit, even partially, with some of these descriptions .
Let’s see what these fundamental traits of authoritarian people are.
1. The belief that one is right “by default”
The tendency of a person towards authoritarianism can be detected if he or she manifests directly or indirectly that, in the absence of indications to the contrary, it is he who is right on all issues in general.
The belief that it is oneself who is better able to decide how things have to be and how others have to be, together with the associations and learnings made in the past in which this type of attitude has been rewarded, is the basis of this style of behavior.
2. Leadership is not questioned
Authoritarian people see questioning their own leadership as personal, an offense. This is so because, by assuming as a fundamental belief that oneself commands and the rest obey, leadership itself is taken as something natural, that is, it is normalized, in the same way in which the ability of kings to command centuries ago and queens was not questioned and was valid by itself.
Doubting that other people have to be carried away by one’s own instructions is seen as a transgression or something that has to be justified very well in order to be accepted as an exceptional fact.
3. Undervaluing the work and skills of others
For the belief that oneself has a special and “privileged” criterion to decide what to do, it is necessary to maintain the illusion that the merits of other people are not so. That is, to avoid the cognitive dissonance of seeing that other people may be as or more capable than oneself to decide and act correctly, their successes must be interpreted as the result of luck or they must be interpreted as partial successes.
For example, if a person obtains a university degree in the shortest time possible, a markedly authoritarian person may resort to the discourse that she knows the world better outside the classroom, thus implying that she is still in a position to instruct the other on issues related to your career.
4. Showing merits
For the same reason that they tend to undervalue the merits and abilities of others, authoritarian people are especially prone to making their achievements visible and drawing attention to them. In this way, they themselves will keep in mind these superficial justifications for why one has the authority, and at the same time will draw the attention of others to these more or less exaggerated merits.
However, in those cases in which authoritarian people can exercise power without having to seek even these minimal justifications, this characteristic may not be present. This occurs, for example, when someone has the material ability to bend others to their will, either by having greater physical strength or a socioeconomic status that can be used to harm others.
5. Constant demands
Authoritarian people do not limit themselves to using this facility to manipulate others only to achieve some objectives, but on many occasions they end up falling into a dynamic in which they begin to demand many things of all kinds from others. This is because they learn that being authoritarian can be helpful in the short term.
6. Tendency towards aggressiveness
The fact of demanding many things from others causes conflict and dissatisfaction situations to end up being created, and it is this type of phase that authoritarian people respond energetically to punish the other and that the episodes of disobedience do not repeat themselves.
These punishments do not have to be based on physical force, but can be expressed symbolically and verbally.
7. Authoritarianism in multiple contexts
Authoritarian people are not only authoritarian in certain contexts and not in others. As their behavior is based on learning that has taken place in many different kinds of situations, they will try to impose their point of view in all the possible varieties of settings.
Modifying authoritative behavior
That we speak of authoritarian people does not mean that they have to be so always, as if that adjective were a label that defines the depths of their personality.
By unlearning certain relationship dynamics and learning more adaptive ones, it is possible to become more tolerant, and many forms of psychological intervention can be helpful in providing tools that enable this change.