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Grigoryev D.S. (2020). From patriotism to political totalitarianism: the role of collective narcissism. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], (40) 4, 48–60. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0404


Background. Patriotic education is carried out in many countries, being an integral part of the process of socialization of the younger generation. At the same time, patriotism is often used by autocracies to maintain power and total state control over all aspects of public and private life. What is the socio-psychological aspect of this possible transformation?

Objective. The aim of the study was to test the model of the relationship between patriotism, nationalism, right-wing authoritarianism and political totalitarianism, as well as to examine the role of collective narcissism in these relationships. We hypothesized that patriotism is not directly related to totalitarianism, this connection is mediated by nationalism and right-wing authoritarianism, while patriotism and nationalism are connected only under the condition of a high level of collective narcissism (i.e., collective narcissism demonstrates the effect of moderation).

Design. The study of the role of collective narcissism in the relationship between patriotism, nationalism, right-wing authoritarianism and political totalitarianism was carried out in 2018 on a gender-balanced sample of residents of Russia (N –232) aged 16 to 61 (M –28.5; SD –10.2). Reliable and valid tools were used for measurements: cultural patriotism and nationalism (Grigoryan 2013; Grigoryan, Lepshokova, 2012), collective narcissism (Golec de Zavala et al., 2009), right-wing authoritarianism (Bizumic, Duckitt, 2018). A cross-sectional single-sample correlation design was applied using data from a socio-psychological survey. The data was collected in 2018 through an online survey conducted by an independent commercial research company as a result of a survey of their own panel of respondents.

The survey was conducted using various Likert scales. All scales that had not previously been translated into Russian were adapted by double translation and cognitive interviews using the “think-aloud” technique (Batkhina, Grigoryev, 2019).

Results. The hypotheses that were put forward were confirmed. It was found that (1) patriotism is not directly related to totalitarianism: nationalism and authoritarianism mediated the relationship between patriotism and totalitarianism, and nationalism mediated the relationship between patriotism and authoritarianism; (2) patriotism is positively associated with nationalism only if the level of collective narcissism is high; (3) nationalism is positively associated with authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and authoritarianism with totalitarianism.

Conclusions. Collective narcissism may reflect the process of compensating for low self-esteem and lack of control over their lives in people, and generate belief in an exalted image of the in-group and its right to special recognition. Subsequently, this helps to use patriotism as a basis for supporting political totalitarianism. Nationalism and authoritarianism can carry an instrumental function in this process acting as certain strategies for the implementation of the motivational orientation set by collective narcissism.

Received: 09/15/2020
Accepted: 10/09/2020
Pages: 48-60
DOI: 10.11621/npj.2020.0404

Sections: Social Psychology;


Keywords: political totalitarianism; patriotism; collective narcissism; nationalism; right-wing authoritarianism; political ideology; socio-functional approach

Available Online 30.10.2020

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For citing this article:

Grigoryev D.S. (2020). From patriotism to political totalitarianism: the role of collective narcissism. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], (40) 4, 48–60. doi: 10.11621/npj.2020.0404

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