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South African J. Psychology, 1984, 14 (2), 64

Directiveness and authoritarianism: a rejoinder to Duckitt



J.J. Ray

School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, P.O. Box 1, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia

Duckitt claims that research with the Ray Directiveness scale cannot test the Adorno et al. account of authoritarianism because the Directiveness scale does not measure authoritarianism in the Adorno et al. sense. That is, the Directiveness scale does not measure a combination of hostility and submissiveness. It is pointed out that this criticism of the Directiveness scale assumes the truth of the Adorno et al. theory. What if submissiveness and hostility are just not empirically associated? There is evidence that it is in fact dominance that goes with hostility. A proper test of the Adorno et al, theory should then require that each variable of the theory be measured by a separate and different scale. The Directiveness scale is one such scale. It purports to measure only one variable (but the most basic) of the Adorno et al. theory.

In Ray (1976) it was pointed out that the California F-scale has little or no validity as a predictor of authoritarian behaviour (See also Ray & Lovejoy, 1983). A new scale (the Directiveness scale) was proposed as a more valid measure of authoritarianism than the F-scale.

Duckitt (1983) has recently extended the findings with the Directiveness scale to show that the scale does not predict negative attitudes towards homosexuality (in contrast with the F-scale). This is, of course, entirely consistent with the general tenor of findings with the Directiveness scale. Most of the relationships between authoritarianism and other variables proposed by Adorno et al. (1950) are not found when the Directiveness scale is used. This tends to suggest that the Adorno et al. account of authoritarianism is severely deficient.

Duckitt, however, questions whether the Directiveness scale is in fact a measure of authoritarianism in the Adorno et al. sense. Because he believes it is not, he, concludes that 'research using the Directiveness scale could neither validate nor in-validate the theory of the authoritarian personality' (Duckitt, 1983 p. 12).

In making this evaluation, Duckitt appears to be falling into the trap of confusing what may be accomplished by definition and what may be accomplished by empirical research. Duckitt quite cogently summarizes the Adorno et al. theory as saying that uncritical submissiveness to authority tends to go with aggressiveness and punitiveness because both tend to be an outcome of over-strict child-rearing. This is not, however, a definition. It is a theory. Duckitt appears to argue that because the Directiveness scale does not measure a hostile but submissive personality it cannot be a proper measure of authoritarianism in the Adorno et al. sense. This is true as far as it goes. The Directiveness scale was specifically designed to measure only one of the `components' of the perso-nality described by Adorno et al. - the dominance/submission component. It was felt that this was the irreducible core meaning of any conception of authoritarianism. An authoritarian who was not dominant or submissive might be many things but it would surely be stretching the meaning of the word to continue to call him (or her) 'authoritarian'.

Whether or not we accept dominance/submission as being the core meaning of authoritarianism, however, it is still surely clear that a test of the Adorno et al. theory requires a disaggregation of the variables Adorno et al. assert to be associated. How can you test a theory that submissiveness and hostility are associated unless you measure the two separately? To show that the F-scale is a combined measure of hostility and submissiveness is in fact by itself sufficient grounds to reject it as of any use for testing the Adorno et al. theory! Such a measure assumes what has to be proved. As it happens, research with the Directiveness scale tends to indicate that it is dominance, not submissiveness, that is associated with hostility (Ray, 1980). The Adorno et al. account of authoritarianism is not only a theory, it is an untrue theory. To regard it as constituting a definition of authoritarianism is surely, therefore, extraordinarily incautious. Any test of the Adorno et al. theory must surely measure the variables of the theory separately. To provide a measure of one of those variables is the task for which the Directiveness scale was designed.

References

Adorno, T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J., & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality N.Y.: Harper.

Duckitt, J.H. (1983). Directiveness and authoritarianism: some research findings and a critical appraisal. South African Journal of Psychology, 13(I), 10- 12.

Ray, J.J. (1976) Do authoritarians hold authoritarian attitudes? Human Relations, 29, 307-325.

Ray, J.J. (1980) Authoritarianism and hostility. Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 307-308.

Ray, J.J. & Lovejoy, F.H. (1983). The behavioral validity of some recent measures of authoritarianism. Journal of Social Psychology, 120, 91-99.






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