Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

“Our Country Needs a Strong Leader Right Now”: Economic Inequality Enhances the Wish for a Strong Leader

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DOI

  • Stefanie Sprong, Trinity College Dublin
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  • Jolanda Jetten, University of Queensland
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  • Zhechen Wang, University of Queensland, Hangzhou Medical College
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  • Kim Peters, University of Exeter
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  • Frank Mols, University of Queensland
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  • Maykel Verkuyten, Utrecht University, Utrecht
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  • Brock Bastian, University of Melbourne
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  • Amarina Ariyanto, Universitas Indonesia
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  • Frédérique Autin, University of Poitiers
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  • Nadia Ayub, Institute of Business Management, Karachi
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  • Constantina Badea, Universite Paris X Nanterre
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  • Tomasz Besta, University of Gdansk
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  • Fabrizio Butera, University of Lausanne
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  • Rui Costa-Lopes, University of Lisbon
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  • Lijuan Cui, East China Normal University
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  • Carole Fantini, Université Libre de Bruxelles
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  • Gillian Finchilescu, Witwatersrand University
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  • Lowell Gaertner, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
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  • Mario Gollwitzer, Ludwig-Maximilians-University München
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  • Ángel Gómez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia
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  • Roberto González, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
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  • Ying Yi Hong, Chinese University Hong Kong
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  • Dorthe Høj Jensen
  • Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Minoru Karasawa, Nagoya University
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  • Thomas Kessler, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
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  • Olivier Klein, Université Libre de Bruxelles
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  • Marcus Lima, Universidade Federal de Sergipe
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  • Laura Mégevand, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL)
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  • Thomas Morton, Københavns Universitet
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  • Paola Paladino, University of Trento
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  • Tibor Polya, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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  • Tuuli Anna Renvik, University of Helsinki
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  • Aleksejs Ruza, Daugavpils University
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  • Wan Shahrazad, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
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  • Sushama Shama, Kurukshetra University
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  • Heather J. Smith, Sonoma State University
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  • Ana Raquel Torres, Federal University of Paraíba
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  • Anne Marthe van der Bles, University of Groningen
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  • Michael J.A. Wohl, Carleton University

Societal inequality has been found to harm the mental and physical health of its members and undermine overall social cohesion. Here, we tested the hypothesis that economic inequality is associated with a wish for a strong leader in a study involving 28 countries from five continents (Study 1, N = 6,112), a study involving an Australian community sample (Study 2, N = 515), and two experiments (Study 3a, N = 96; Study 3b, N = 296). We found correlational (Studies 1 and 2) and experimental (Studies 3a and 3b) evidence for our prediction that higher inequality enhances the wish for a strong leader. We also found that this relationship is mediated by perceptions of anomie, except in the case of objective inequality in Study 1. This suggests that societal inequality enhances the perception that society is breaking down (anomie) and that a strong leader is needed to restore order (even when that leader is willing to challenge democratic values).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Science
Volume30
Issue11
Pages (from-to)1625-1637
Number of pages12
ISSN0956-7976
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • anomie, authoritarianism, economic inequality, leadership, populism, preregistered, subjective and objective inequality

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