Personality Traits, Democratic Support, and Authoritarian Nostalgia

Social Science Quarterly

Democratic rule has been the modal political system since the Third Wave of democratization, but nostalgia for authoritarian rule drives political behavior in many new democracies. Why do democratic voters feel nostalgia for an authoritarian past? This paper introduces a dispositional framework for authoritarian nostalgia by using individual democratic support as a moderator. I argue that, out of their longing for the proving socioeconomic performance of the past, people low in emotional stability are likely to have authoritarian nostalgia. I further hypothesize that while personality traits explain variation in authoritarian nostalgia among weak democrats, they may not do so among strong democrats due to their authoritarian rejection. With original survey data collected from South Korea and Taiwan, I test the conditional effects of democratic support on authoritarian nostalgia. Findings from this paper provide novel dispositional explanations for the persisting sentiment for former dictatorships in developing democracies.

Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director