Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_200088-1

We tend to differentiate between different types of authority. Religious (or spiritual) authority, secular (or governmental) authority, and scientific authority are the three most common varieties. Ideally, each type of authority is supposed to be exercised in the public interest. Nevertheless, authority relations usually entail differences in status and power, so theories of authority are often rooted in a mood of skepticism, suspicion, or outright mistrust. So, for example, some theories stress the necessity of religious and secular authorities to constrain, punish, and perhaps pardon our sinful natures, or our allegedly instinctive tendencies to selfishness, lust, and violence (e.g., Augustine, Hobbes, Freud). These theories are rooted in a deep mistrust of human nature. By contrast, theories that stress the arbitrary, irrational, repressive, and power-seeking aspects of authority (among libertarian and anarchist thinkers, for example) are rooted in mistrust of authority itself....


Iranian Authorities Ultra-nationalist Movements Anonymous Authority Scientific Authority Sound Ethical Judgments 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDuquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA