May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

History of authoritarian personality research

News Toxic managers Books Recommended Links Workplace mobbing Double High Authoritarians Reference
Main traits Typical behavior Authoritarian  followers RWA scale   Characteristics of Emotionally Abused People Danger to democracy
Understanding Borderline Rage The Fiefdom Syndrome Learned helplessness Office Stockholm Syndrom Groupthink Bureaucratic ritualism Communication
Bully Managers Narcissistic Managers Micromanagers Female bullies     The psychopath in the corner office
Surviving a Bad Performance Review Anger trap Sociology of organizations Work overload History of authoritarian personality research Humor Etc

Theodor W. Adorno (with Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford) wrote a book  in their book The Authoritarian Personality in 1950. He defined nine traits that are typical for authoritarians: conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression).[1]  This cluster makes authoritarian predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values. The authors of The Authoritarian Personality, advertised for volunteers and administered a battery of questionnaires. They selected the most anti-semitic and least anti-semitic of the volunteers and discarded the mid-group. They then contrasted the remaining two groups, coming up with the F-scale, which measures the basic traits of the authoritarian personality. The researchers performed their work while being influenced by the larger social context that existed at this time, especially the rise and fall of fascism in Germany and several other countries as well as by Second World War with its atrocities toward ethnic groups and individual prisoners. But the results of their research pointed at something different then just effect of the brainwashing of storm troopers by charismatic leader and much more menacing: they have found that there is a pretty numerous class of personalities in the society that are naturally predisposed to this set of behaviors. For this category of people this represent the natural path of social adaptation and adjustment to social norms. A result of their research was the development of a measure for authoritarian tendencies in ordinary persons known as the F-scale that is still in use today. Robert Altemeyer in 1981 revisited the concept of the authoritarian personality and come with his own term Right-wing authoritarianism and his own scale called RWA scale. In his research Altemeyer found that only three of the original nine hypothesized components of the model are correlated: authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism.

Here is an informative revidew from Amazon

3.0 out of 5 starsThe Authoritarian Personality - A Dangerous Study., October 2, 2004 By New Age of Barbarism "zosimos" (EVROPA.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    This review is from: The Authoritarian Personality (Studies in prejudice) (Paperback) _The Authoritarian Personality_ involved a series of studies sponsored by the American Jewish Committee which were supposed to define a certain personality type which would be easily taken up with antidemocratic propaganda, in light of the tragedy and disaster that was the Third Reich. Scales were developed to assess Antisemitism, Political-Economic Conservativism (which amounted to support for laissez-faire capitalism), and Authoritarianism (the F (for Fascist) scale). Both the Antisemitism scale and the Political-Economic Conservativism scale involved predictable statements in which the subjects had to state their level of agreement with in order to achieve a score. The F scale, involved a series of statements which were designed to measure conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception (i.e. "Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, and the tender-minded."), superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness", destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity (i.e. "The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world"), and concern about "sexual goings-on".

While some of these statements were predictable, others were rather strange (and could not be easily answered in terms of Agree/Disagree because they were too broad and categorical). (My own score on this scale was rather high, about 4 out of a possible 6.) Various populations including college students and criminals were examined in terms of these scales and various theories were proposed to explain different personality sub-types.

The ironic thing about this research is that it does not really show much of anything. While the authoritarian type may be interesting from a theoretical perspective, it is doubtful that such a type actually amounts to the kind of person who would unleash a fascist tyranny. In my view, the authoritarian type would be a rather eccentric individual, but probably not one who would engage in mass murder. This study must be seen in light of the fact that among the main authors were Marxists (prime among them Theodore Adorno) who wanted to advance an anticonservative agenda, downplaying conventional morality among other things. Also, the authors seem to think that those prone to give a "mystical" explanation for world events are also those prone to be sympathetic to a fascist state. I find this ironic because in my view the fascist state was a completely technicized one, created along "rationalist"/scientistic lines. I believe this reveals the bias of the Marxist materialist against philosophical worldviews which incorporate transcendental non-material elements. Also, in terms of stereotypy it is assumed that the stereotypes in question are always false. While stereotypes may reveal a dysfunction in rational thought, there is no reason to assume that a stereotype need be always false. Actual empirical study is necessary to confirm or disconfirm the truth of a given stereotype, provided of course that that stereotype is even phrased in a manner which leads itself to verification/falsification. Finally, it is assumed that conventional morality is something that involves submission to an unjust authority, rather than being a natural outgrowth of biological and natural constraints upon the human animal. Since these sorts of questions were not addressed in the study, I believe that while it may be interesting from some theoretical perspective, its practical utility is limited. In terms of actual practice, the results of this study could be disastrous, in fact resulting in a sort of "reverse tyranny" in which individuals categorized as "authoritarian" by such measures are denied civil liberties. A good book which deals with this question is by Paul Gottfried entitled _After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State_. In addition, much of the theorizing in this book is based on Freudian theories of the unconscious. These types of Freudian theories are highly problematic in themselves, and their scientific standing is highly dubious to say the least. Many of the individuals interviewed in this book could clearly be described as unbalanced and possibly insane; however, there is little reason to think that these are the individuals who would be at the forefront of a future fascism.

Recently, John Dean applied Robert Altemeyer research to analyze the Republican Party in his book Conservatives without Conscience.  He discovered high level of penetration of the  "the authoritarian personality" in the government and political apparatus of the Republican Party up to the highest echelons. This personality type also provides the base of voters that are predominantly Republican. In the USA this voting block that includes religious fundamentalists (Southern Baptists, evangelical and Pentecostal churches) comprises nearly 50% of the general population. Originally focusing on the follower type of authoritarian, John Dean research explored the leaders which he called "double-highs": they have high scores on both leader and follower authoritarian personality scales and also display features of the more classic anti-social personality disorder.

In 2005 Karen Stenner's  book, The Authoritarian Dynamic was published which represent the latest of attempts to research this phenomenon. Stenner argues that RWA is best understood as expressing an dynamic response to external threat, not a static disposition based only on the traits of submission, aggression, and conventionalism. Stenner is critical of Altemeyer's social learning interpretation and argues that it cannot account for how levels of authoritarianism fluctuate with social conditions. She argues that the RWA Scale can be viewed as a measure of expressed authoritarianism, but that other measures are needed to assess authoritarian predispositions which interact with threatening circumstances to produce the authoritarian response.



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

Copyright © 1996-2021 by Softpanorama Society. was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.

This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...

You can use PayPal to to buy a cup of coffee for authors of this site


The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the Softpanorama society. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose. The site uses AdSense so you need to be aware of Google privacy policy. You you do not want to be tracked by Google please disable Javascript for this site. This site is perfectly usable without Javascript.

Last modified: March, 12, 2019