Department of Political Science

Dominance-driven political orientations predict political violence in non-WEIRD and WEIRD samples

Research output: Working paper/Preprint Working paperResearch


Given the costs of political violence, scholars have long sought to identify its causes. We examined individual differences related to participation in political violence, emphasizing the central role of political orientations. We hypothesized, specifically, that individuals with dominance-driven autocratic political orientations are particularly prone to political violence. Multilevel analysis of a large sample, spanning 34 African countries (N = 51,587), indicated that autocracy-oriented individuals, compared to democracy-oriented individuals, are four times more likely to participate in political violence. As a predictor of violence (indexed with attitudinal, action intent, and behavioral measures), autocratic orientation outperformed other variables highlighted in existing research, including socioeconomic status and perceived injustice. Additional analyses of original samples from South Africa (N = 2,170) and Denmark (N = 1,012) indicated that the association between autocratic orientation and political violence reflects individual differences in dominance orientations, and that the findings generalize to societies extensively socialized to democratic values.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages123
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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