The Authoritarian Personality Tuesday, October 1st, 2002 Joyce S. Pang
The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford, 1950), written in the aftermath of World War II, was initially an effort to understand the events of the war- Q: Is there a pre-fascist personality?
Authoritarianism The F-scale • History and development: from the A-S scale to the F-scale • Common thread running through F-scale items: “a general disposition to glorify, be subservient to and remain uncritical towards authority figures of the in-group and to take an attitude of punishing out-group figures in the name of some moral authority.”
Aggression Conventionalism Anti-intraception Obedience and Submission Cognitive complexity Threat Intolerance of ambiguity Superstition and stereotypy Destructiveness and cynicism Projectivity and sex Power and toughness Authoritarianism
Intolerance of ambiguity The authoritarian’s cognitive style
Intolerance of ambiguity • Else Frenkel-Brunswik a.k.a. “ How a dog changes into a cat” • Gordon Allport • Key cognitive style of authoritarians Authoritarians have impermeable constructs!
Aggression and Obedience Milgram’s Obedience experiments
Stanley Milgram • Social psychologist • Wrote dissertation on conformity in France and Norway~influenced by Solomon Asch • Intense identification with fellow Jews who suffered during Holocaust • Published Obedience to authority in 1974, which has now been translated into 11 languages
The Experiment • 1 teacher (naïve subject), 1 “learner”(confederate), 1 experimenter • Teacher watches as “Learner” is strapped into place. • Teacher has to administer electric shocks of increasing intensity if learner is wrong or if he doesn’t respond. • Shock generator: from 14 to 450 volts; from left to right (Slight Shock, Moderate Shock, Strong Shock, Very Strong Shock, Intense Shock, Extreme Intensity Shock,Danger: Severe Shock [Two switches after this last designation are simply marked XXX.])
Conflict arises when the “Learner” begins to show that he is experiencing discomfort: At 75 volts, he grunts; at 120 volts, he complains loudly; at 150, he demands to be released from the experiment; At 285 volts, his response can be described only as an agonized scream. Soon thereafter, he makes no sound at all. • Two examples: • Gretchen Brandt • Fred Prozi
“Right-Wing authoritarianism is an individual factor, a personality variable…developed on the premise that some persons need very little situational pressure to…submit to authority.” Altemeyer, 1988
Altemeyer, 1981 • (Right-Wing) Authoritarianism: • Submission • Aggression • Conventionalism