Robert Altemeyer later refined and fleshed out this early work into a construct known as "right wing authoritarianism," finding that:
[T]hree facets of this authoritarian personality were statistically significant and cross-correlated: conventionalism, authoritarian aggression and authoritarian submission. Conventionalism is the tendency to accept and obey social conventions and the rules of authority figures. Authoritarian aggression is characterised by an aggressive attitude towards individuals or groups disliked by authorities, and authoritarian submission is submission to authorities and authority figures.
The list of the correlations he found is interesting. Furthermore:
High scorers on the RWA scale tend to have a rigid, often fundamentally religious view of morality tending towards as homophobic and patriarchal beliefs. High RWA scorers tend to support authority figures, such as the government, taking action to censor certain social groups (often those who are viewed as physically or morally threatening).
Not surprisingly, conservatives have attacked this construct as unfair, given that examples of left wing authoritarianism can be found in history and into the present day.
By 2001, a less politically laden construct, "social dominance orientation," "a measure of an individual's preference for hierarchy within any given social system," "was first proposed by Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto as part of their Social Dominance Theory (SDT), which proposes that societies can reduce group conflict using legitimizing myths, which allow intergroup prejudice and inequality."
SDO correlates with Right Wing Authoritarian and together they predict to varying degrees many forms of prejudicial attitudes, such as sexist, racist and anti-homosexual attitudes. There is very little evidence that either scale predicts much in the way of behavior, however.
Both scales are catalogues of broadly aggressive social attitudes which are likely to find support today among extreme conservatives. That the the two scales correlate is to be expected from their similar content.
The SDO scale has been generally very well received by psychologists and is widely used in attitude research.
As I said in beginning, when I hear certain people talk or I read their writings, I think about these social psychological concepts. It is very difficult and time-consuming even to attempt to raise an adult human being over again to overcome the childhood environment that caused the excessive expression of authoritarian human traits. And "self-transcendence" in the sense of "going beyond a prior form or state of oneself" requires some combination of education, true two-way communication, and reflection. Sometimes, if the stakes are high enough, you just have to defeat these authoritarian people on the battlefield, real or ideational.
UPDATE: 'The Authoritarian Personality' Revisited
UPDATE: John Dean writes "Triumph of the authoritarians."