Home Concepts Interpersonal Relationships The Authoritarian Personality: Contemporary Appraisals and Implications for the Crisis of Expertise

The Authoritarian Personality: Contemporary Appraisals and Implications for the Crisis of Expertise

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Follow-Up II: Further Studies

Roger Brown contributed to the follow-up studies after the California studies were published. As one of the most respected and influential social psychologists in the United States, he also received the attention of others in the field when he offered a judgement during the 1960s. Brown summarizes and evaluates over a decade of criticism directed at the California Study Group findings. He concludes in 1965 that, despite methodological flaws with the original research program, the central thesis of The Authoritarian Personality—that (for psychological reasons) a constellation of rigid, intolerant, authoritarian, and ethnocentric attitudes tend to co-occur—is not only plausible, but also likely correct.

International Perspective

While much of the work on authoritarianism was produced during the first decade following publication of the California Study findings, the studies have continued to be published – and increasingly have been conducted outside the United States. Typically, the attention in essays emanating from outside the United States focus on differences in the American culture and the culture in which the author lives or in the cultures they are studying (e.g. Chin-Lung Chien June, 2016, Beyond Authoritarian Personality: The Culture-Inclusive Theory of Chinese Authoritarian Orientation; Jaime Napier and John T Jost Aug 2008, Journal of Social Issues The “Antidemocratic Personality” Revisited: A Cross?National Investigation of Working?Class Authoritarianism; Sergej Flere and Rudi Klanjšek Apr 2009, Cross-Cultural Insight into the Association Between Religiousness and Authoritarianism).

Other studies from outside the United States applied the concept of authoritarian personality to specific events or political trends that have taken place in their own country (e.g. John T Jost and Anna Kende Nov 2019, Setting the record straight: System justification and rigidity?of?the?right in contemporary Hungarian politics; Pavlos Vasilopoulos Jul 2022, Authoritarianism, Political Attitudes, and Vote Choice: A Longitudinal Analysis of the British Electorate; Pavlos Vasilopoulos and Romain Lachat, Authoritarianism and Political Choice in France; Julian Aichholzer and Martina Zandonella Jul 2016, Personality and Individual Differences, Psychological bases of support for radical right parties.)

Political Perspective and Methodology

We also find essays being published throughout the world that are critical of the left-leaning perspective taken by the original authors (e.g. Jarret Thomas Crawford, THE (NOT SO) ELUSIVE LIBERAL BIAS IN SOCIAL COGNITION). Other authors are critical of the psychoanalytic perspective taken by Adorno and his associates (Jos D. Meloen, Gert Van der Linden and Hans De Witte Dec 1996, A Test of the Approaches of Adorno et al., Lederer and Altemeyer of Authoritarianism in Belgian Flanders: A Research Note).

The primary focus in most of the essays was directed to the faulty methodology to be found in the original authoritarian personality studies—with alternative methods often being proposed (and used) (e.g. Altemeyer, 1981). Alterations in the original authoritarian personality construct have also been offered or a second personality trait such as social dominance (Pratto, e. al, 1994) has been proposed. It should be noted in most cases that there is still the underlying assumption that authoritarianism is a trait (probably established in childhood) rather than a state (elicited in a specific situation and setting)—an exception being the study conducted by Kreindler (2005) on the relationship between authoritarian and group cohesion.

What then remains to be honored from the original Adorno studies? In one of the most comprehensive reviews of the authoritarian personality research, John Duckitt (2015, p. 256) (from the University of Auckland in New Zealand) concluded that there are two basic tenets from the original study that have held up and are generally considered valid: “These were the assumptions that social attitudes and beliefs were meaningfully organized along a single broad ideological dimension and that these attitudes were direct expressions of personality”.

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