The SINUS study was a survey commissioned by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1980 on right-wing extremist ideas in West Germany. The study was the first of its kind in the Federal Republic of Germany. Rarely have the results of a social science survey attracted as much attention as this SINUS classic from 1981.
The study looked at six components that, taken together, yield a right-wing extremist pattern of attitudes: authoritarianism, nationalism, xenophobia, prosperity chauvinism, anti-Semitism and pro-Nazism. SINUS research was able to show that at that time 13 or more percent of the West German population had a “closed right-wing extremist worldview.” About one in two in this group also found violence to be an effective means of enforcing it. Another 37 percent were immune to anti-Semitism, militarism and the Führer cult but were still receptive to “right-wing extremist thought content.” The study argues that conservatives in particular have made radical right-wing thought “socially acceptable.”
The study provided – and continues to provide – rich material for debate on right-wing extremism, and offers practical politics a wealth of starting points for combating this phenomenon.