Article written in 1989 for publication in the Journal of Sex Research but not accepted for publication


J.J. Ray

University of New South Wales

A previous paper in The Journal of Sex Research (Ray, 1988a) commented on a paper by Kelley (1985) which claimed that authoritarians disliked certain types of "pornography" more than did non-authoritarians. In the research concerned, "authoritarianism" was measured by a version of the California F scale (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford, 1950). It was pointed out (Ray, 1988a) that the F scale has little or no validity as a measure of authoritarianism but that there was very strong evidence that it measured an old-fashioned orientation. It was submitted, therefore, that the correct interpretation of the Kelley (1985) finding was that old-fashioned people are more prudish.

Another paper has now appeared in this journal (Fisher, Byrne, White & Kelley, 1988) that makes much the same mistake as did Kelley (1985). This time it is "erotophobia" that is said to be "authoritarian". It seems appropriate, then, to put another correction to this on the record.

It would be pointless to go yet again over the evidence concerning the implications of a score on the F scale. Readers who are in any doubt can refer to several previous papers on the subject (Ray, 1987, 1988a & b; Hartmann, 1977). Let it simply be said therefore that the Fisher et al interpretation of their results is unsustainable and that what has been demonstrated is a correlation between erotophobia and an old-fashioned orientation. One again it has been shown that old- fashioned people tend to be prudish. Putting it conversely, attitudes to various sorts of sexual display have steadily liberalized in modern times. This is not, of course, a very novel "discovery".


Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1951) The authoritarian personality. N.Y.: Harper.

Fisher, W.A.; Byrne, D.; White, L.A. & Kelley, K. (1988) Erotophobia -erotophilia as a dimension of personality. J. Sex Research 25, 123-151.

Hartmann, P. (1977) A perspective on the study of social attitudes. European J. Social Psychol. 7, 85-96.

Kelley, K. (1985) Sex, sex-guilt and authoritarianism: Differences in response to explicit heterosexual and masturbatory styles. J. Sex Research 21, 68-85.

Ray, J.J. (1987) Intolerance of ambiguity among psychologists: A comment on Maier & Lavrakas. Sex Roles 16, 559-562.

Ray, J.J. (1988) Sexual liberation, old-fashioned outlook, and authoritarianism: A comment on Kelley. J. Sex Research 24, 385-387.

Ray, J.J. (1988b) Why the F scale predicts racism: A critical review. Political Psychology 9(4), 671-679.

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