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(Article written for The Journal of Social Psychology in 1989 but not accepted for publication)

THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY IN SOUTH AFRICA: A COMMENT ON LOUW-POTGIETER



J.J. Ray

University of N.S.W., Australia

Louw-Potgieter (1988) seems to assume that writers such as myself who study the Adorno et al (1950) theory must see some usefulness, relevance or truth in it. Quite the reverse can be the case. I in fact regard the theory as totally erroneous. I study it only to clarify just how wrong it is. The theory still receives much uncritical and admiring mention in the psychology literature so studies such as mine seem needed.

Louw-Potgieter also seems to assume that you can only study The Adorno et al theory by way of the scales provided by Adorno et al -- e.g. the 'F' scale. But if the F scale has been shown not to be valid as a measure of what it purports to measure (Ray & Lovejoy, 1983), how can we continue using it uncritically? Louw-Potgieter rejects my measure of authoritarianism (the Directiveness scale) because it does not measure what Adorno et al meant by "authoritarianism". But how could it? Adorno et al thought that authoritarianism contained and was part of a whole host of other covarying attributes. But such covariation does not exist (Brown, 1965; Widiger et al, 1980). If one is to operate within reality as we have it, therefore, we have to abandon disproved assumptions about covariation and just study the different "components" one by one. That is what my Directiveness scale assists at.

Finally, Louw-Potgieter (1988) seems to be under the impression that I regard racism and authoritarianism as being good things. This is perhaps an understandable error. Adorno et al clearly thought both to be bad things so if I reject the conclusions of Adorno et al must I not be saying that racism and authoritarianism are good things? Not really. What my findings do reveal is that authoritarians in my sense (i.e. as measured by the Directiveness scale) are not maladjusted and may have some admirable traits (depending on what is admired). My view of ethnocentrism and stereotyping is a textbook one: That they are "universal ineradicable psychological processes" (Brown, 1986).

REFERENCES

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

Brown, R.(1965) Social psychology N.Y.: Free Press.

Brown, R.(1986) Social psychology N.Y.: Free Press.

Louw-Potgieter, J. (1988) The authoritarian personality: An inadequate explanation for intergroup conflict in South Africa. J. Social Psychology 128, 75-87.

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

Widiger, T.A.; Knudson, R.M. & Rorer, L.G. (1980) Convergent and discriminant validity of measures of cognitive styles and abilities. J. Personality & Social Psychology 39, 116-129.




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