Justice for the people? How justice sensitivity can foster and impair support for populist radical right parties and politicians in the US and in Germany

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Description: Many people argue that support for populist radical right political agents is motivated by people feeling “left behind” in globalized Western democracies. Empirical research supports this notion by showing that people who feel personally or collectively deprived are more likely to hold populist beliefs and anti-immigration attitudes. Our aim was to further investigate the psychological link between individuals’ justice concerns and their preferences for populist radical right political agents. We focused on stable individual differences in self-oriented and other-oriented justice concerns and argue that these should have opposing correlations with preferences for populist radical right parties. We tested our hypotheses in two national samples, one from the US (N = 1,500) and one from Germany (N = 848). Sensitivity to injustice towards oneself enhanced the likelihood of preferring Trump (USA) and AfD (Germany) via increased anti-immigration attitudes and increased populist attitudes. Sensitivity to injustice towards others reduced the likelihood of preferring Trump and AfD via decreased anti-immigration attitudes. We discuss our findings in regard to how stable individual differences in the evaluation of fairness can motivate intra- and interpersonal political conflicts in modern western societies, and, how politics and mass media can impact these conflicts.

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