Gender Differences in Formal Thinking: Their Impact on Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Religious Fundamentalism


The present study investigated the relationship between cognitive development and political and religious ideology, and whether there are gender differences in formal thinking which may be related to right-wing authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. The conceptual and empirical literature suggests that many aspects of cognition which play a role in the formation of conservative political and religious ideology are also present in those who engage in Piagetian concrete thinking (versus formal thought). The sample consisted of 116 late adolescents and young adults enrolled at a large public university. Results found that only 40% of participants had achieved formal thought on a traditional test of formal thinking, and that women who had lower scores on this test scored higher on measures of right-wing authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. There was no such relationship for men. The present study shows the value of this approach and suggests the need for a pragmatic test of formal thought focused on political and religious ideologies.

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Bridges, K. and Harnish, R. (2015) Gender Differences in Formal Thinking: Their Impact on Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Religious Fundamentalism. Psychology, 6, 1676-1684. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.613164.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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