Social Cognition and Democracy: The Relationship Between System Justification, Just World Beliefs, Authoritarianism, Need for Closure, and Need for Cognition in Hungary


  • László Kelemen
  • Zsolt Péter Szabó
  • Noémi Zsuzsanna Mészáros
  • János László
  • Josef P. Forgas


This research was aimed at examining just-world beliefs, system justification, authoritarianism, and cognitive style in a nationally representative sample (N = 1000) in Hungary, and at relating these phenomena to various demographic and political variables to find out whether the findings in Hungary would differ from its Western counterparts. According to system justification theory, there is a psychological motive to defend and justify the status quo. This theory has been tested several times in North American and Western European samples. The core finding of our study was that Hungarian people, unlike people in Western democracies, did not justify the existing establishment. There was strong pessimism with regard to the idea that the system serves the interests of the people. Members of disadvantaged groups (people with low economic income and/or far right political preference) strongly rejected the system. System justification beliefs were moderately related to just world beliefs, and there was a significant relationship between some aspects of need for closure (need for order, discomfort with ambiguity, and closed-mindedness) and authoritarian beliefs. Need for cognition was only related to one aspect of need for closure: closed-mindedness. The voters of right-wing parties did not display higher levels of authoritarianism than the voters of the left social-democrat party. The role of demographic and political variables, limitations, and possible developments of this research are discussed.