Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1979, 35, 744-747.
THE AUTHORITARIAN AS MEASURED BY A PERSONALITY SCALE: SOLID CITIZEN OR MISFIT?
J. J. RAY
University of New South Wales
A quota sample (N = 87) in Sydney, Australia, received the Ray "Directiveness" scale -- a scale of authoritarianism in behavior inventory format -- together with other measures of important social science constructs. Authoritarians were found not to be older, not to be more likely to be males, not to be more likely to be manual workers, not to be less well educated, not to be more likely to vote conservative, not to be more neurotic, and not to be more dogmatic. Instead, they were internally controlled, achievement motivated, and unalienated. These differences from the normal concept of the authoritarian were held to be explainable by the previously demonstrated greater behavioral validity of a personality scale approach to measurement of authoritarianism.
Although the California F scale from time to time does show some relationships with cognitive variables, its great fault is its repeated failure to predict basic authoritarian behavior -- i.e., the tendency of one person to try to impose his will on others. The evidence for this generalization has been summarized at length by Ray (1976) and need not be elaborated upon here. Paradoxically, although the F scale may be valid as a measure of cognitive complexity, intolerance of ambiguity etc., it is not valid as a measure of what it purports to measure. It is not sensitive to that part of the complex of traits elaborated on by Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson and Sanford (1950) that gave it its name. As Brown (1965) points out, not all of the supposedly covarying traits studied by Adorno et al. do in fact covary.
We stand in some need of a scale that in fact will validly measure authoritarian personality as such -- a scale that will predict everyday authoritarian behavior. Such a scale was developed by Ray (1976). The new scale (Directiveness scale) achieved its greater predictive validity by being cast in behavior inventory format rather than in the traditional attitude scale format. It was shown to correlate highly with peer-rated authoritarian behavior.
Now that a valid authoritarianism scale is available, a matter of immediate interest is its correlation with other variables. Some evidence on this is already available. Both Ray (1976) and Heaven (1977) found it to be unrelated to racial attitudes, and Ray (1978) found it to be unrelated to political alignment. Unlike Rokeach's D scale -- wherein high scorers in fact do seem slightly more likely to be conservative (Hanson, 1970) -- the Directiveness scale appears to be equally sensitive to authoritarianism of both the Left and the Right.
There are, however, many other well-known constructs in the social sciences to which authoritarianism might be related. The present study examined some of these potential relationships. Because the number of concepts that could be examined was very large, this study confined itself to what seemed the best-known and most widely used constructs in the social psychological literature. The constructs chosen for inclusion in the study were: Alienation, achievement motivation, dogmatism, neuroticism, social desirability set, and authoritarianism itself.
Three of the above variables usually are measured by forced-choice scales and the rest by Likert scales. The three forced-choice variables are: Other-Directiveness, Internal-External control, and Machiavellianism. For purposes of control alone, it was deemed desirable, however, that all scales should be presented in a common format-type. Additionally, work by Orvik (1972) and Ray (1973) casts considerable doubt on the adequacy of forced-choice format. In the latter study it was shown that the validity characteristics of a task-orientation scale were opposite when in forced-choice and in Likert format -- the validity characteristics of the Likert scale were the ones that theoretically should have been expected. This was deemed to have occurred because of the impossibility of the equation for social desirability required by forced-choice scales (Orvik, 1972).
Ironically, it was precisely in order to avoid problems with social desirability set that Rotter (1966) and Christie and Geis (1970) turned to forced-choice format after initial experiments with Likert format. Christie and Geis (1970) report that their forced-choice scale in fact does, correlate with social desirability to a significant degree, so control for such an artifact still would require the inclusion of a separate social desirability measure. Clearly, forced-choice format does not live up to the expectations held for it (cf. also Gatz & Good, 1978).
Of course, reverting to Likert format does not absolve us from the problems of social desirability responding. The problem is dealt with by partialling out social desirability scores derived from a separate social desirability measure from all correlations with the Likert score.
The scales chosen to represent the various constructs were: Authoritarianism -- the Ray (1976) Directiveness scale; Achievement motivation -- the Ray (1974a, 1975) AO scale; Machiavellianism -- the Christie and Geis (1970) Mach IV; Other-Directedness -- the Kassarjian (1962) Social Preference Scale; Dogmatism -- the Ray (1974b) BD scale Mark II; Alienation -- the Ray (1974c) General Alienation (GA) scale; Locus of control -- the Rotter (1966) I-E scale; Neuroticism -- the short form of Eysenck's (1959) MPI; Social Desirability -- a short form of the Crowne and Marlowe (1964) instrument.
Because of the large number of constructs involved, all scales had to be used in short forms only. Where short forms did not already exist, they were devised on the basis of available items analyses -- i.e., an attempt was made to select only those items that correlated most highly with the total score on the full scale. Thus the Kassarjian and Rotter scales underwent the double transformation of being recast into Likert format and being shortened. For Machiavellianism, Christie's own Likert form was used (in a shortened form).
Subjects and Procedure
The scales were administered by members of a class of sociology students to people (N = 87) whom they knew under the constraint that no students were to be included in the sample and that equal numbers of people in manual and non-manual occupations were to be included.
On the basic demographic variables of age, sex, occupation and education, the sample obtained showed no significant differences from another sample obtained at the same time by the conventional public-opinion poll type door-to-door random sampling. It thus may be regarded as an adequate quota sample of the Sydney metropolitan area.
Authoritarians (high scorers on the Directiveness scale) were found to be not particularly polarized on: Age, sex, occupation, education, religion, vote, approval motivation, neuroticism, Machiavellianism, or dogmatism. Knowing a person's authoritarianism score gave one no significant improvement over chance in predicting his standing on any of these variables. Both high and low authoritarians were equally likely to be dogmatic, Machiavellian, neurotic, etc.
However, authoritarians were more likely to be achievement-motivated (r = .309), less alienated (r = -.198), and internally controlled (r = .208).
The coefficients alpha of the scales used were .72 for Achievement Motivation, .72 for Alienation, .60 for Directiveness, .71 for Neuroticism, .77 for Social Desirability, .57 for Internal-External control, .54 for Machiavellianism, and .52 for Dogmatism. They are generally rather low, but this is an almost inevitable consequence when very short scales are used.
The fact noted above that Social Desirability score was not correlated significantly with Directiveness score meant that no partialling out of social desirability from the correlations observed was required.
The present results show that the picture of the authoritarian obtained from a valid scale in personality inventory format differs markedly from the picture that we had been led to expect on the basis of California F scale responses.
Authoritarians are not older, are not more likely to be males, are not more likely to be manual workers, are not less well educated, are not conservative voters, are not neurotic, and are not dogmatic. They are instead autonomous, achievement-striving citizens of a society with which they generally are satisfied. A more different picture from what had been expected scarcely could be imagined.
Yet authoritarianism in the sense measured here is surely authoritarianism in its most basic sense: The tendency to try to or want to impose one's own will on others. The description of authoritarianism offered by Adorno et al. (1950) did include many other elements as well, but the difficulty is that when measured separately these supposed other elements often are found not to be so intimately related after all (cf. Ray, 1976, for a review of evidence to this effect). Thus, if we measure tendency to dominate, we cannot be at all sure that at the same time we are measuring intolerance of ambiguity. We must, perhaps regrettably, take a piecemeal approach and have independent measures for each "component" of authoritarianism in which we are interested.
In other words, what has been shown above to be true of authoritarians in the strict, explicit sense may not be true of authoritarians in the wider sense of people intolerant of ambiguity. The convenient simplifications of Adorno et al. (1950) no longer will suffice to guide sophisticated research in this area.
What the present results confirm is that these simplifications were in fact vast oversimplifications. No doubt Adorno et al. (1950) did describe the characteristics of a real class of people. The characteristics of people whom we normally would identify by their behavior as "authoritarian," however, are nothing like this. Adorno et al. (1950) may have been describing tough-minded conservatives. They were not describing authoritarians.
ADORNO, T. W., FRENKEL-BRUNSWIK, F., LEVINS0N, D. J., & SANFORD, R. N. The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper, 1950.
BROWN, R. Social psychology. New York: Free Press, 1965.
CHRISTIE, R., & GEIS, F. L. Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press, 1970.
CROWNE, D. P., & MARLOWE, D. The approval motive. New York: John Wiley, 1964.
EYSENCK, H. J. Manual of the Maudsley Personality Inventory. London: University of London Press, 1959.
GATZ, M., & GOOD, P. R. An analysis of the effects of the forced-choice format of Rotter's internal-external scale. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1978, 84, 381-385.
HANSON, D. J. Dogmatism and political ideology. Journal of Human Relations, 1970, 18, 995-1002.
HEAVEN, P. C. L. Do authoritarians hold authoritarian attitudes? The case of South Africa. Journal of Psychology, 1977, 96, 169-171.
KASSARJIAN, W. M. A study of Riesman's theory of social character. Sociometry, 1962, 25, 213-230.
ORVIK, J. M. Social desirability for the individual, his group and society. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 1972, 7, 3-32.
RAY, J.J. (1973) Task orientation and interaction orientation scales. Personnel Psychology 26, 61-73.
RAY, J.J. (1974) Are trait self-ratings as valid as multi-item scales? A study of achievement motivation. Australian Psychologist
RAY, J.J. (1974) Balanced Dogmatism scales. Australian Journal of Psychology 26, 9-14.
RAY, J.J. (1974) Who are the alienated? Ch. 52 in Ray, J.J. (Ed.) Conservatism as heresy Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co.
RAY, J.J. (1975) A behavior inventory to measure achievement motivation. J. Social Psychology 95, 135-136.
RAY, J.J. (1976) Do authoritarians hold authoritarian attitudes? Human Relations, 29, 307-325.
RAY, J.J. (1979) Does authoritarianism of personality go with conservatism? Australian Journal of Psychology 31, 9-14.
ROTTER, J. B. Generalized expectancies for internal versus --external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 1966, 80, No. 609.
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