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Dimensions of Authoritarianism

Dimensions of Authoritarianism: A Review of Research and Theory

John P. Kirscht
Ronald C. Dillehay
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Dimensions of Authoritarianism
    Book Description:

    The concept of authoritarianism, first defined inThe Authoritarian Personalitypublished in 1950, has since been treated in a bewildering array of studies that have explored both its narrow psychological meaning and its broader social implications. In this volume, authors John P. Kirscht and Ronald C. Dillehay have provided a much-needed review of this growing subject, summarizing and evaluating about 260 studies that have appeared to date.

    Kirscht and Dillehay differentiate between the psychological and the sociological approach to authoritarianism, tracing the historical development of both schools of thought. They also outline three major views of authoritarianism: as antecedent to certain types of behavior (for example, ethnic prejudice), as the consequence of other variables (such as child rearing practices), or as a correlate of yet other processes(e.g. alienation); these views, in turn, suggest a variety of theoretical and methodological issues. The authors review, in addition, the multitudes of beliefs and behaviors thought to vary with authoritarianism, examining the validity of these relationships in empirical research.

    While the authors do not attempt to reformulate or redefine authoritarianism, they point up avenues for future research and single out significant research findings which are likely to offer the firmest ground for development.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6327-7
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-x)
    M. Brewster Smith

    In 1950 a behemoth of a volume attracted wide attention in psychology and the social sciences. An outgrowth of a psychoanalytically inspired investigation of anti-Semitic prejudice and protofascist attitudes,The Authoritarian Personatitycaptured the imagination of scholars in many fields for its portrayal of a coherent psychological posture or syndrome of personality that made psychological sense of diverse forms of social irrationality. Ethnic prejudice was the initial target, but the picture of the authoritarian that emerged at Berkeley from the work of Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford seemed to throw light on much else: on modes of leadership and followership,...

  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    J.P.K. and R.C.D.
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    The study of authoritarianism confronts issues of extraordinary social significance, no less today than in 1950, whenThe Authoritarian Personalitywas published. Dogma, morals, politics, power, childrearing, race relations, organizational functioning—these and more have been explored within the framework of authoritarianism. Social issues that prompted interest in the construct in the 1940’s and earlier have recurred in many forms and places; the threat of extremist, authoritarian social movements, whether identified as fascist or not, continues. As a consequence the search for some understanding of the social and psychological antecedents, manifestations, and consequences of this kind of psychological functioning likely...

  6. Social Characteristics and Authoritarianism
    (pp. 35-41)

    Investigators have focused considerable attention on the relationship of authoritarianism and various social variables, including social groupings and demographic characteristics. They have regarded education, in particular, as an important influence on F scale scores. Although theAuthoritarian Personalitystudy did use survey methods, it did not examine authoritarianism within a representative population (Hyman and Sheatsley, 1954), nor did it contrast systematically subgroups of the population. It remained the task of later studies, some of which we will discuss, to explore the association between the F scale and social and cultural characteristics.

    Some cross-cultural testing of the F scale has been...

  7. Personality Characteristics and Authoritarianism
    (pp. 42-54)

    Investigators have explored the relationship of authoritarianism to certain psychological variables, including aspects of cognitive functioning (especially rigidity and intolerance of ambiguity), psychopathology, anxiety, and prejudice. Although it is difficult to distinguish clearly between personality and social psychological variables (such as attitudes and values), we will discuss in this section studies focusing on persistent, stylistic aspects of behavior. We will also consider studies of dogmatism and the relationship of this concept to anxiety. Because of their special relationship to the beginnings of authoritarianism as a discrete field of study, we will cover studies of ethnic prejudice separately.

    An important feature...

  8. Authoritarianism and Related Beliefs
    (pp. 55-94)

    A great many studies of authoritarianism deal with the relationships between authoritarian personality traits and beliefs. Some of the beliefs investigated have been specific and some general. We have categorized them, based on content, into political beliefs (including participation in and conception of political processes, plus views of nations and international relations); religious beliefs; attitudes toward family and childrearing; alienation; social perception; and ethnic beliefs.

    Most studies reviewed in this section conceptualized authoritarianism as a relatively fixed characteristic of personality. Authoritarianism was often treated as causally antecedent to the beliefs studied: authoritarianism is an independent variable which disposes an individual...

  9. Social Behavior and Authoritarianism
    (pp. 95-126)

    Some of the most interesting social psychological research on the topic of authoritarianism deals with its effects on interaction with others and ways it influences various aspects of group behavior. Characteristically, authoritarianism is treated as a fixed disposition of an individual, affecting his interaction with others and having consequences for group processes and products. In some cases authoritarianism itself is considered a dependent variable. Many of the studies, including a number of laboratory experiments, provide data free from acquiescence response bias.

    We have divided studies discussed in this section into four groups based on the conception of authoritarianism underlying the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 127-136)

    Although difficult to summarize, the many varied findings discussed in this review can be organized into a framework of causal implications. That research results constantly raise new problems and side issues is undeniable. Yet, our knowledge of authoritarianism has moved toward greater maturity and differentiation.

    First, some hypotheses contain, implicitly or explicitly, factors antecedent to the personality disposition or variables contributing to the development of authoritarianism. Relatively few of the studies cited above fall into this category, but they are an important group for a social psychological view. Included here are studies attempting to specify the social conditions which contribute...

  11. References
    (pp. 137-160)
  12. Index
    (pp. 161-168)