The role of collective narcissism in populist attitudes and the collapse of democracy in Hungary

Lantos, Dorottya and Forgas, Joseph P.. 2021. The role of collective narcissism in populist attitudes and the collapse of democracy in Hungary. Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, 5(2), pp. 65-78. ISSN 2475-0387 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

What are the psychological processes responsible for the recent spread of populist political systems and movements? All political systems essentially reflect the mental representations of their populations, and collective narcissism has recently emerged as a contributing factor in the rise of populism. This article presents two studies examining the role of collective narcissism in predicting populist attitudes and voting intentions in Hungary. Hungary offers a particularly important case study of state-sponsored populism and illiberalism in Europe, as this country has gone furthest in undermining democratic principles and practices within the EU. To establish the pervasive role of collective narcissism we first review the historical evidence, survey research, and narrative analyses of Hungarian political representations. We then present two empirical studies where we predicted and found that collective narcissism was a significant predictor of negative attitudes toward the EU (Study 1), conservatism, and support for the ruling populist party (Studies 1 and 2). Collective narcissism predicted these variables independently from other factors, such as in-group positivity or perceived relative deprivation. However, once conservatism was controlled for the effects of collective narcissism faded out in some cases. The results nevertheless indicate that collective narcissism plays important role in promoting populist politics. The implications of these findings for understanding the psychological appeal of populism and illiberalism are discussed.

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4 October 2020Accepted
18 May 2021Published Online
April 2021Published

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02 Jun 2021 08:54

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02 Jun 2021 08:56

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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