NEW YORK – American researchers have published a working paper showing that people identifying with the “alt-right” consider Jews, Mexicans, blacks, Democrats, journalists, feminists and Muslims as subhumans, below homo sapiens on the evolutionary scale.
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The study, entitled "A Psychological Profile of the Alt-Right," unveils the specifics of the race theory embraced by the movement. For example, unlike other far-right groups, members of the “alt-right” do not rank Jews at the bottom of the racial hierarchy.
In the study, Prof. Patrick Forscher of the University of Arkansas and Prof. Nour Kteily of Northwestern University questioned 447 people who identify with the “alt-right” and 382 members of a control group who do not.
The study is a working paper; it has not yet been published in a scholarly journal. The initial findings were released two days before the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a man has been charged with murder for allegedly ramming his car into a crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 people.
To study the dehumanization of various social groups by the “alt-right,” Forscher and Kteily showed their subjects the iconic “March of Progress” illustration describing the five phases of human evolution, from apes to homo sapiens, and asked them to mark where various population groups fell.
On average, those identifying with the “alt-right” placed whites, Republicans, Americans, Swedes and Christians at evolution’s highest level of development – as homo sapiens. The other groups were ranked as belonging to earlier evolutionary stages. Among the inferior groups, in descending order reflecting an alleged lack of development, were Jews, Mexicans, blacks, Democrats, journalists, feminists and Muslims.
The members of the control group ranked all the groups as homo sapiens except for Donald Trump, whose name the researchers had offered for classification by the respondents. The control group put the president one stage lower than modern humans. Both groups were also asked to rank Hillary Clinton; “alt-right” adherents placed Clinton at the level of Muslims, two stages below modern humans.
The researchers also studied the extremism of members of the “alt-right” based on aggressiveness and so-called Dark Triad traits – including narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy – that are associated with callous, manipulative behavior. They determined that the “alt-right” respondents fell into two subcategories, one that the researchers dubbed “supremacist,” the less extreme one “populists.”
Members of the “supremacist” group showed traits of narcissism, psychopathy and aggression, and said they had engaged in violent behavior such as threats and harassment, both in social encounters and online.
The members of the second “alt-right” group were more moderate; they were less aggressive and more concerned with issues such as government corruption. But both “alt-right” groups viewed major media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal with suspicion. They opposed Black Lives Matter and expressed concerns about discrimination against males and whites in the United States.
In the paper, Forscher and Kteily said they found some of the findings surprising and contrary to the stereotype attributed to the “alt-right.” For example, in questions about the social relations of the extremists whom they examined, there were no significant differences between them and the control group.
Contrary to the image of the troll hiding in his parent’s basement, members of the “alt-right” reported having close social relationships at levels similar to the control group. Also, there were no significant differences in the level of concern that “alt-right” members and the general population had about the state of the U.S. economy.