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Personality, Authoritarian

Personality, Authoritarian

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The rise of fascist ideology and virulent anti-Semitism in Europe during the 1930s posed important questions for social scientists. Psychologists suggested explanations that drew on both psychoanalysis and Marxism. Wilhelm Reich (18971957) proposed that capitalism and sexual repression produced sadomasochistic personalities blending aggression toward the weak and vulnerable with deferential submission to power and authority. Abraham Maslow (19081970) and Erich Fromm (19001980) also described broadly similar authoritarian personalities whose basic needs attracted them to fascism. The most theoretically developed and empirically based of these explanations was proposed in 1950 by Theodor Adorno (19031969), Else Frenkel-Brunswik (19081958), Daniel Levinson (19201994), and R. Nevitt Sanford (19091995) in a monumental book, The Authoritarian Personality (1950). This book reported a program of research that began with the aim of explaining anti-Semitism, but culminated in a far more ambitious theory, which for a time dominated social scientific inquiry into the psychological bases of prejudice and ethnocentrism.

Their first major finding was that anti-Semitic attitudes were not held in isolation, but were part of a broader ethnocentric pattern involving a generalized dislike of out-groups and minorities, excessive and uncritical patriotism, and politically conservative attitudes. Their research suggested that this pattern of attitudes seemed to be an expression of a particular personality syndrome consisting of nine tightly covarying traits. These were:

  1. Conventionalism (rigid adherence to conventional middle-class values).
  2. Authoritarian submission (submissive, uncritical attitudes toward authorities).
  3. Authoritarian aggression (the tendency to be on the lookout for, condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values).
  4. Anti-intraception (opposition to the subjective, imaginative, and tender-minded).
  5. Superstition and stereotypy (belief in mystical determinants of the individuals fate, and a disposition to think in rigid categories).
  6. Power and toughness (preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness).
  7. Destructiveness and cynicism (generalized hostility, vilification of the human).
  8. Projectivity (a disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outward of unconscious emotional impulses).
  9. Sex (exaggerated concern with sexual goings-on).

Psychometric questionnaire items were developed in order to assess each of these traits, and these culminated in the famous F (fascist) scale, which was used to measure this authoritarian personality dimension. Research did indeed show that that the F scale was powerfully correlated with measures of prejudice, ethnocentrism, conservative attitudes, and extremist right-wing politics.

Adorno and his colleagues theorized that authoritarian personalities originated from childhood socialization characterized by strict, punitive parental discipline and conditional affection. This creates an inner conflict between resentment and hostility toward parental authority and a fearful need to submit to that authority, which culminates in identification with, and submissive idealization of, parental authority, and by extension all authority. This aggression is repressed and displaced onto targets sanctioned by authority. These psychodynamics are expressed in the nine surface traits of the authoritarian personality, the pattern of ethnocentric, conservative, chauvinistic social attitudes, deference to established authority, and pervasive hostility and prejudice against out-groups, minorities, and other socially deviant targets.

This theory attracted enormous attention initially, and the F scale became widely used. Critics, however, noted methodological flaws in the research, and pointed out that the theory ignored authoritarianism of the Left. The F scale was found to have serious psychometric flaws, most notably the all positive formulation of its items so that scores were heavily contaminated by the response style of acquiescence (the general tendency for people to agree rather than disagree). When this was corrected, the items of balanced versions of the F scale lacked internal consistency, and so could not be measuring a single unitary syndrome or dimension. As a result of this, and other nonsupportive findings, interest in the theory and the F scale largely collapsed during the 1960s.

Since the mid-1980s, however, interest in the issue has revived with the identification of two distinct authoritarian individual difference dimensions that seem to underlie prejudice, intolerance, and ethnocentrism. First, in the 1980s Bob Altemeyer showed that three of Adorno and colleagues original traitsconventionalism, authoritarian aggression, and authoritarian submissiondid constitute a unitary individual difference dimension, which he named right-wing authoritarianism and characterized as submissive authoritarianism. Second, in the 1990s Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto identified a second, dominant, authoritarian dimension, seemingly relating to Adorno and colleagues original traits of power, toughness, destructiveness, and cynicism, which they called social dominance orientation. The idea that these might be personality dimensions, however, has been challenged, and it has been argued that they seem better viewed as ideological attitude or value dimensions that are influenced by personality, but are not in themselves personality dimensions.

SEE ALSO Anti-Semitism; Dictatorship; Fascism; Frankfurt School; Fromm, Erich; Jingoism; Leadership; Marxism; Maslow, Abraham; Nativism; Patriotism; Personality; Personality, Cult of; Psychoanalytic Theory; Scales; Social Dominance Orientation; Social Psychology

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adorno, Theodor W., Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford. 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.

Altemeyer, Bob. 1998. The Other Authoritarian Personality. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 30, ed. Mark P. Zanna, 4792. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Duckitt, John. 2001. A Dual-process Cognitive Motivational Theory of Ideology and Prejudice. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 33, ed. Mark P. Zanna, 41113. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

John Duckitt

Chris G. Sibley

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Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism

DEFINING FEATURES OF AUTHORITARIANISM

TYPES OF AUTHORITARIANISM

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Authoritarianism is one of the three main types of political systems (or regimes ), democracy and totalitarianism being the other two. Social science scholars have identified a number of features of authoritarianism in its ideal type form. The ideal criteria may not be present in practice in actually existing authoritarian systems. Rather, descriptions of the ideal type provide a measuring stick for analysts to assess how authoritarian a particular system is. Scholars also increasingly recognize a hybrid between authoritarianism and democracy as forming its own ideal type regime, generally called either semi-authoritarian or semi-democratic systems (Ottaway 2003).

DEFINING FEATURES OF AUTHORITARIANISM

Defining features of authoritarianism include the existence of a single leader or small group of leaders with ultimate political authority. Believing in the supremacy of the authority of the state over all organizations in society, authoritarian leaders make all important government policy decisions. The states needs are paramount; individualism is encouraged only to the extent that it benefits the state. Ideal type authoritarianism lacks both official and unofficial limitations on its power, although Mark Hagopian (1984, p. 118) has argued that, in practice, powerful social groups can maintain unofficial, extralegal constraints over authoritarian leaders.

Whereas totalitarianism strongly emphasizes an official and overarching ideology serving as a blueprint for the remaking of society, authoritarianism is less concerned with ideology. When authoritarian leaders come to power, they often have a set of policy goalssuch as eliminating corruption or resurrecting the economyas well as what Juan Linz (1975) calls a mentality about the purpose of their rule. But this is quite different from the kind of ideology present in an ideal type totalitarian system.

Authoritarian systems commonly emerge in times of political, economic, and social instability, and thus, especially during the initial period of authoritarian rule, authoritarian systems may have broad public support. The stereotype of an authoritarian leader as uniformly despised by the general population is rarely accurate. In the majority of authoritarian systems, however, these public (and publicly supported) goals take a back seat to the maintenance of the regimes power if the latter is threatened. Over time, if the government fails to achieve its policy goals, the public may withdraw its support.

Because of the governments control of the states repressive mechanisms, declining support need not translate into popular unrest and antigovernment mobilization. Indeed, another of authoritarianisms defining features is the limiting of mass political participation. Democratic and totalitarian systems encourage the general publics political participation, although in the totalitarian case the state or ruling party controls all aspects of mass political mobilization. Authoritarian leaders typically prefer a population that is apathetic about politics, with no desire to participate in the political process. Authoritarian governments work to develop such attitudes, both by fostering a sense of a deep divide between society and government and by repressing expressions of dissent, violently if necessary. Consequently, authoritarian leaders view the rights of the individual, including those considered to be human rights by the international community, as subject to the needs of the government. Concern about the possible emergence of potential political opposition can become an obsession of authoritarian leaders, weakening their effectiveness as leaders and the policy performance of the government.

TYPES OF AUTHORITARIANISM

Just as social scientists identify various types of democratic systems, scholars highlight three types of authoritarianism. A military authoritarian system is one in which the military is not only privilegedas it typically is in all authoritarian systemsbut actually in control of all major aspects of government decision-making. The rule of Augusto Pinochet in Chile from 1973 to 1988 is the classic example of a military authoritarian regime.

In party authoritarian systems, on the other hand, a single political party dominates the system. Though this is also true of totalitarian systems (e.g., Stalins USSR or Hitlers Germany), party authoritarian systems penetrate into society less than totalitarian systems. Party authoritarian systems may even tolerate small opposition parties and use mechanisms of democracy like elections in an effort to increase their legitimacy with the public. Mexicos authoritarian system prior to the reforms of the 1990s and 2000s is an example of a party authoritarian system.

Bureaucratic authoritarian systems are run by the military but rely heavily on experts in the fields of economics and other policy areas, often allowing them significant autonomy to set and oversee government policy. Social scientists often label these officials technocrats. Military leaders point to the technical expertise of these bureaucrats as a key component of their economic modernization policies, which are introduced under harsh authoritarian conditions to prevent opposition to economic reforms. Guillermo ODonnell identifies Argentina from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s as the classic example of bureaucratic authoritarianism.

SEE ALSO Bureaucracy; Democracy; Democratization; Dictatorship; Human Rights; Leadership; Military Regimes; Oligarchy; State, The; Technocrat; Totalitarianism

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hagopian, Mark N. 1984. Regimes, Movements, and Ideologies: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science. 2nd ed. New York: Longman.

Linz, Juan J. 1975. Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. In Macropolitical Theory, Vol. 3 of Handbook of Political Science, eds. Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby, 175-411. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

ODonnell, Guillermo A. 1973. Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics. Berkeley: University of California, Institute of International Studies.

Ottaway, Marina. 2003. Democracy Challenged: The Rise of Semi-Authoritarianism. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Lowell W. Barrington

Anne Mozena

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authoritarian personality

authoritarian personality A term coined by Theodor Adorno and his associates through a book of the same name first published in 1950, to describe a personality type characterized by (among other things) extreme conformity, submissiveness to authority, rigidity, and arrogance towards those considered inferior.

Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School who fled the Third Reich, first to Britain and then to the United States, where he conducted extensive empirical research on the anti-semitic, ethnocentric, and fascist personalities. In attempting to explain why some people are more susceptible to fascism and authoritarian belief-systems than are others, Adorno devised several Likert attitude scales which revealed a clustering of traits which he termed authoritarianism. Several scales were constructed (ethnocentric, anti-semitic, fascist) and part of the interest in the study came from examining these scales. During interviews with more than 2,000 respondents, a close association was found between such factors as ethnocentrism, rigid adherence to conventional values, a submissive attitude towards the moral authority of the in-group, a readiness to punish, opposition to the imaginative and tender-minded, belief in fatalistic theories, and an unwillingness to tolerate ambiguity. These authoritarian attitude clusters were subsequently linked, using Freudian theory, to family patterns. Intensive interviewing and the use of Thematic Apperception Tests identified the authoritarian personality with a family pattern of rigidity, discipline, external rules, and fearful subservience to the demands of parents.

The Authoritarian Personality is a classic study of prejudice, defence mechanisms, and scapegoating. The term itself has entered everyday language, even though the original research has attracted considerable criticism. Among other weaknesses, critics have suggested that the Adorno study measures only an authoritarianism of the right, and fails to consider the wider ‘closed mind’ of both left and right alike; that it tends, like all theories of scapegoating, to reduce complex historical processes to psychological needs; and is based on flawed scales and samples. For a detailed exposition and critique see John Madge , The Origins of Scientific Sociology (1962)
. See also CRITICAL THEORY.

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Authoritarian Personality

Authoritarian personality

A personality pattern described in detail in the 1950 book of the same name that grew out of a study of anti-Semitism.

Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) led a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, to determine whether there was a correlation between anti-Semitism and certain personality traits . While the original goal had been the identification of an "anti-Semitic" personality, the scope was widened, first from anti-Semitic to "Fascist" then to "authoritarian," when the study found that people prejudiced against one ethnic or racial group were likely to be prejudiced against others as well.

A major determining factor in the formation of the authoritarian personality was found to be a pattern of strict and rigid parenting, in which obedience is instilled through physical punishment and harsh verbal discipline. Little parental praise or affection is shown, independence is discouraged, and the child's behavior is expected to meet a set standard. Significantly, such parents instill in children not only obedience to themselves but also a deeply entrenched sense of social hierarchy which entails obedience to all persons of higher status. When they reach adulthood, people with this personality structure discharge the hostility accumulated by their harsh upbringing against those whom they perceive to be of lower status by forming negative stereotypes of them and discriminating against or overtly persecuting them. It is also thought that they may be projecting their own weaknesses and fears onto the groups they denigrate as inferior. Other traits associated with this personality type include dependence on authority and rigid rules, conformity to group values, admiration of powerful figures, compulsiveness, concreteness, and intolerance of ambiguity.

Further Reading

Eiser, J. Richard Social Psychology: Attitudes, Cognition, and Social Behaviour. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Stone, William F., Gerda Lederer, and Richard Christie, eds. Strength and Weakness: the Authoritarian Personality Today. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1993.

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authoritarian

au·thor·i·tar·i·an / əˌ[unvoicedth]ôriˈte(ə)rēən; ôˌ[unvoicedth]är-/ • adj. favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, esp. that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom: the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic regime. ∎  showing a lack of concern for the wishes or opinions of others; domineering; dictatorial. • n. an authoritarian person. DERIVATIVES: au·thor·i·tar·i·an·ism n.

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authoritarianism

authoritarianism System of government that concentrates power in the hands of one person or small group of people not responsible to the population as a whole. Freedom of the press and of political organization are suppressed. Many authoritarian regimes arise from military takeovers.

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Authoritarianism

AUTHORITARIANISM.

This entry includes three subentries:

Overview
East Asia
Latin America

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authoritarian

authoritarian, authoritarianism See AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY.

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authoritarian

authoritarianantipodean, Crimean, Judaean, Korean •Albion •Gambian, Zambian •lesbian •Arabian, Bessarabian, Fabian, gabion, Sabian, Swabian •amphibian, Libyan, Namibian •Sorbian •Danubian, Nubian •Colombian • Serbian • Nietzschean •Chadian, Trinidadian •Andean, Kandyan •guardian •Acadian, Akkadian, Arcadian, Barbadian, Canadian, circadian, Grenadian, Hadean, Orcadian, Palladian, radian, steradian •Archimedean, comedian, epicedian, median, tragedian •ascidian, Derridean, Dravidian, enchiridion, Euclidean, Floridian, Gideon, Lydian, meridian, Numidian, obsidian, Pisidian, quotidian, viridian •Amerindian, Indian •accordion, Edwardian •Cambodian, collodion, custodian, melodeon, nickelodeon, Odeon •Freudian • Bermudian • Burundian •Burgundian •Falstaffian, Halafian •Christadelphian, Delphian, Philadelphian •nymphean • ruffian • Brobdingnagian •Carolingian • Swedenborgian •logion, Muskogean •Jungian •magian, Pelagian •collegian •callipygian, Cantabrigian, Phrygian, Stygian •Merovingian • 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Tennysonian, Tobagonian, Washingtonian •Cameroonian, communion, Mancunian, Neptunian, Réunion, union •Hibernian, Saturnian •Campion, champion, Grampian, rampion, tampion •thespian • Mississippian • Olympian •Crispian •Scorpian, scorpion •cornucopian, dystopian, Ethiopian, Salopian, subtopian, Utopian •Guadeloupian •Carian, carrion, clarion, Marian •Calabrian, Cantabrian •Cambrian • Bactrian •Lancastrian, Zoroastrian •Alexandrian • Maharashtrian •equestrian, pedestrian •agrarian, antiquarian, apiarian, Aquarian, Arian, Aryan, authoritarian, barbarian, Bavarian, Bulgarian, Caesarean (US Cesarean), centenarian, communitarian, contrarian, Darien, disciplinarian, egalitarian, equalitarian, establishmentarian, fruitarian, Gibraltarian, grammarian, Hanoverian, humanitarian, Hungarian, latitudinarian, libertarian, librarian, majoritarian, millenarian, necessarian, necessitarian, nonagenarian, octogenarian, ovarian, Parian, parliamentarian, planarian, predestinarian, prelapsarian, proletarian, quadragenarian, quinquagenarian, quodlibetarian, Rastafarian, riparian, rosarian, Rotarian, sabbatarian, Sagittarian, sanitarian, Sauveterrian, sectarian, seminarian, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, topiarian, totalitarian, Trinitarian, ubiquitarian, Unitarian, utilitarian, valetudinarian, vegetarian, veterinarian, vulgarian •Adrian, Hadrian •Assyrian, Illyrian, Syrian, Tyrian •morion • Austrian •Dorian, Ecuadorean, historian, Hyperborean, Nestorian, oratorian, praetorian (US pretorian), salutatorian, Salvadorean, Singaporean, stentorian, Taurean, valedictorian, Victorian •Ugrian • Zarathustrian •Cumbrian, Northumbrian, Umbrian •Algerian, Cancerian, Chaucerian, Cimmerian, criterion, Hesperian, Hitlerian, Hyperion, Iberian, Liberian, Nigerian, Presbyterian, Shakespearean, Siberian, Spenserian, Sumerian, valerian, Wagnerian, Zairean •Arthurian, Ben-Gurion, centurion, durian, holothurian, Khachaturian, Ligurian, Missourian, Silurian, tellurian •Circassian, Parnassian •halcyon • Capsian • Hessian •Albigensian, Waldensian •Dacian • Keatsian •Cilician, Galician, Lycian, Mysian, Odyssean •Leibnizian • Piscean • Ossian •Gaussian • Joycean • Andalusian •Mercian • Appalachian • Decian •Ordovician, Priscian •Lucian •himation, Montserratian •Atlantean, Dantean, Kantian •bastion, Erastian, Sebastian •Mozartian • Brechtian • Thyestean •Fortean • Faustian • protean •Djiboutian •fustian, Procrustean •Gilbertian, Goethean, nemertean •pantheon •Hogarthian, Parthian •Lethean, Promethean •Pythian • Corinthian • Scythian •Lothian, Midlothian •Latvian • Yugoslavian •avian, Batavian, Flavian, Moldavian, Moravian, Octavian, Scandinavian, Shavian •Bolivian, Maldivian, oblivion, Vivian •Chekhovian, Harrovian, Jovian, Pavlovian •alluvion, antediluvian, diluvian, Peruvian •Servian • Malawian • Zimbabwean •Abkhazian • Dickensian •Caucasian, Malaysian, Rabelaisian •Keynesian •Belizean, Cartesian, Indonesian, Milesian, Salesian, Silesian •Elysian, Frisian, Parisian, Tunisian •Holmesian •Carthusian, Malthusian, Venusian

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