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Australian Journal of Psychology Vol. 40, No. 3, 1988 pp. 299-302


J. J. Ray and F. H. Lovejoy

University of New South Wales

The concept of directiveness is used by researchers in several areas of psychology but the scale most frequently used to measure it (the Ray scale) is sometimes rather low in reliability. On one such occasion the Ray scale was administered along with the Lorr and More scale. A hybrid scale replacing some Ray scale items with Lorr and More scale items was found to be much more reliable. Peer-rating validation studies showed the hybrid scale also to be highly valid. Directiveness was operationally defined as the aggressive subset of dominant behaviours.

The concept of "directiveness" seems to have been independently "invented" on at least four different occasions. Borgatta and Bohrnstedt (1968) used the concept to delineate one of the precursors of achievement motivation; Bastine, Charlton, Grassner and Schwarzel (1969) saw it as the converse of "permissiveness" in their studies of teacher attitudes; Lorr and More (1980) saw it as an aspect of assertiveness; and Ray (1976) identified it as the basic element in authoritarianism. The concept thus has a place in educational, social and clinical psychology.

But has the term "directiveness" always been used to stand for the same thing? Are the similarities of usage more than superficial? Could Heaven (1986) be right in suggesting that directiveness is merely another guise for the familiar concept of dominance? There is no simple answer to this question, as the definitions used by the various authors cited above show both similarities and differences. The only really useful question to ask, therefore, is how different are the various definitions used and do they in turn differ from dominance?

Fortunately, all the authors concerned have operationalised their concepts in the form of personality inventories. This means that correlations between the various conceptions can be obtained and the various conceptions can be examined for their behavioural validity. We can examine what behaviours the various conceptions of directiveness predict.

The Ray directiveness scale seems to have had the largest number of validity studies reported for it (Ray, 1976,1981; Ray & Lovejoy, 1983, 1986; Heaven, 1984, 1985; 1986; Rigby, 1984) and the one thing that stands out with considerable consistency from these studies is that the scale correlates well with both rated dominance and rated aggressiveness. Heaven is thus partly right in saying that the scale measures dominance, but he overlooks the fact that it is only dominance of one particular type that is being measured -- that is, aggressive dominance. The Ray directiveness scale has, in other words, been shown empirically to predict the aggressive subset of dominant behaviours. In the various studies concerned, the raters seem generally to have been given a fairly free hand in deciding how "dominant" and "aggressive" should be defined but this is of course in accord with the general interest at the present time in lay theories and perceptions of behaviour.

If the Ray directiveness scale is a measure of the aggressive subset of dominant behaviour, as those terms are popularly understood, we might ask whether or not there is some confounding in the two concepts. Heaven (1986) in fact suggests that all dominance scales do to some extent measure an aggressiveness component. In support of this view it might be noted that the aggression and dominance scales of the Jackson PRF do correlate significantly even though they were designed to be factorially pure (Jackson, 1967). Fortunately, however, it has been demonstrated elsewhere (Ray, 1981) that a scale of dominance which does not predict rated aggressiveness can be produced. Non-aggressive dominance is perfectly possible. This is also an important lesson of the assertiveness literature and Ray, (1981) therefore, proposed that assertiveness could be seen as non-aggressive dominance and authoritarianism as aggressive dominance.

In this framework, therefore, one would expect the Lorr and More (1980) scale of directiveness to measure something quite distinct from the Ray directiveness scale. The Lorr and More scale was explicitly designed to measure one component of assertiveness. In Ray and Lovejoy (1986), therefore, the behavioural correlates of both the Ray scale and the Lorr and More scale were compared. Also included in the questionnaire administered was the Bastine et al. (1969) directiveness scale. The Borgatta and Bohrnstedt (1968) scale was not included because of its lack of any balancing against acquiescent tendency. Far from the three directiveness scales showing very different correlates, however, they were all shown to be very similar in predicting the aggressive subset of dominant behaviours. The initial conceptual differences between the scales were not mirrored in the correlates of the scales. They were for all intents and purposes operationally measures of the same thing. The claim by Lorr and More that directiveness is an aspect of assertiveness must therefore be viewed as rather suspect. Regardless of initial theoretical distinctions and refinements, all measures of directiveness seem to end up measuring aggressive dominance. The concept would therefore seem to be both a simple and a robust one. Of the various formal definitions that have been offered, the one by Ray (1976) would seem to be the most concise: "The desire or tendency to impose one's own will on others."

Now that the nature of the directiveness construct has been clearly established, an obvious next step would seem to be the provision of a good single scale to measure it. The scales that have been used heretofore have often been shown to be rather deficient in reliability, so there is clearly considerable room for improvement. Where there appears to be a strong bias towards acquiescent responding in the data (e.g., Ray & Still, 1987) reliabilities (alpha) of as low as .63 have been reported for both the Ray scale and the Lorr and More scale. In Shaw and Wright's (1967) terms, this makes both scales "experimental"- that is, in need of improvement before they can be routinely used. Given the obvious interest that the concept of directiveness has, the production of an improved scale to measure it would seem in fact to be rather urgent.

Study 1

The data underlying the study reported in Ray and Still (1987) seemed to be the kind needed for the present purposes. Not only has that data body been shown to be seriously acquiescence-affected but it contains the results from administration of two separate directiveness scales - the Ray (1980) Mark III scale and the Lorr and More (1980) directiveness scale. That the two scales between them might yield enough items to create a hybrid scale better than either of the originals seemed worth exploring. The sample consisted of 186 respondents to a random mail-out survey of the Australian general population.

The reliabilities (alpha) of the two scales were: Ray scale .63, Lorr and More scale .63. Three of the negative items of the Ray scale were seen to show very poor item-total correlations so were replaced with items 2, 3 and 4 of the Lorr and More scale. The Ray items remaining were numbers 1, 2, 6, 8, 10,11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 25 of the directiveness scale listed in the Appendix of Ray (1976). The new hybrid scale (henceforth Mark VI) showed a reliability (alpha) of .76. This is, then, a marked improvement in reliability. The scale now shows a reliability above the level specified by Shaw and Wright (1967) as the minimum acceptable in a research instrument.

It has been suggested by Ray and Still (1987) that the strong acquiescence effect in the present data reflected the fact that many respondents participated only grudgingly. How the Mark VI scale works on samples hopefully better in that respect would therefore be of some interest.

Study 2

Another assessment of the new hybrid scale was thought necessary not only because of possible problems due to acquiescence, but also on the more general ground that any scale construction exercise uses chance as well as genuine correlations and the chance correlations are unlikely to be present on subsequent occasions. Scale reliability cannot therefore be accurately assessed on the norming sample and confirmation of scale reliability on a new and independent sample is needed.

For the confirmatory study, therefore, 79 people contacted by research methods students of the School of Sociology at the University of New South Wales were used as subjects. Students were told to give a questionnaire to people they knew under the constraints that fellow students were not to be included and manual workers were to be given preference. Such constraints have on past occasions generally succeeded in producing a sample with a reasonably representative demographic profile. Precautions to ensure confidentiality were taken and each student independently filled out a rating sheet of each person to whom he/she handed a questionnaire. The ratings were to provide a peer-rating validity criterion for the scales.

The Mark III directiveness scale showed a reliability (alpha) of .82 whilst the Mark VI scale showed a reliability of .85. It is thus confirmed that the strong functioning of the Mark VI scale is not confined to the sample on which it was constructed. The correlations of the Mark VI scale with the peer-ratings were as follows: authoritarian .43, dominant .37, aggressive .45, assertive .32 and submissive -.27. The scale is therefore a strong measure of what it purports to measure. It is clearly not a measure of dominance alone. The equivalent correlations of the Mark III scale were .42, .33, .44, .30 and -.29.


It has been confirmed that the Mark III form of the Ray (1976) directiveness scale is rather sensitive to sample characteristics. It functions very well on cooperative samples and very poorly on samples where much of the cooperation is given grudgingly. Fortunately, it has also been shown that this problem can substantially be overcome. Where the Mark III scale showed a spread in reliability of. 19 between the two samples, the new Mark VI scale showed a spread of only .09. The Mark VI scale is therefore the one that should be used on all future occasions where directiveness is to be measured.

It may be objected that the difference in reliability between the Mark III and Mark VI scales was not great on the second sample and that the Mark VI scale therefore represents little improvement. This is, however, to mistake the intent of the present research. There have been previous instances where the Mark III scale was adequate in reliability but the Mark III scale is not consistently of satisfactory reliability: it works well on some samples and not so well on others. The .two studies presented above exemplify this. The Mark VI scale, by contrast, was on the selfsame samples shown to be consistently of satisfactory reliability. The Mark VI scale would appear therefore to be the required generally usable directiveness scale.


Bastine, R., Charlton, M., Grassner, D. & Schwarzel, W. (1969). Konstruktion eines Fragebogens zur direktiven Einstellung von Lehrern (FDE). Zeitschrift fuer Entwicklungspsychologie und Paedagogische Psychologie, 1, 176-189.

Borgatta, E. F: & Bohrnstedt, G. W. (196$). A short form personality inventory: the Interpersonal Orientations (10) form. Journal of Experimental Education, 36, 1-6.

Heaven, P. C. L. (1984). Predicting authoritarian behaviour: analysis of three measures. Personality & Individual Differences, S, 251-253.

Heaven, P. C. L. (1985). Construction and validation of a measure of authoritarian personality. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 545-551.

Heaven, P. C. L: (1986). Directiveness and dominance. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 271-272.

Jackson, D. N. (1967). Personality research form manual. New York: Research Psychologist's Press.

Lorr, M. & More, W. W. (1980). Four dimensions of assertiveness. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 2, 127-138.

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

Ray, J.J. (1980) Authoritarianism in California 30 years later -- with some cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Social Psychology, 111, 9-17.

Ray, J.J. (1981) Authoritarianism, dominance and assertiveness. Journal of Personality Assessment 45, 390-397.

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

Ray, J.J. & Lovejoy, F.H. (1986) A comparison of three scales of directiveness. Journal of Social Psychology 126, 249-250.

Ray, J.J. & Still, L.V. (1987) Maximizing the response rate in surveys may be a mistake. Personality & Individual Differences 8, 571-573.

Rigby, K. (1984). Acceptance of authority and directiveness as indicators of authoritarianism: a new framework. Journal of Social Psychology, 122; 171-180.

Shaw, M. E. & Wright, J. M. (1967). Scales for the measurement of attitudes. New York: McGraw Hill.


For convenience, the items of the revised scale are presented below:

1. Are you the sort of person who always likes to get his own way?
2. Do you tend to boss people around?
3. Are you often critical of the way other people do things?
4. Does incompetence irritate you?
5. If you are told to take charge of some situation does this make you feel uncomfortable? R
6. Would you rather take orders than give them? R
7. Do you dislike standing out from the crowd? R
8. If anyone is going to be Top Dog would you rather it be you?
9. Do you tend to-dominate the conversation?
10. Are you generally a follower rather than a leader? R
11. Would you prefer to be a worker rather than a manager? R
12. Do you shy away from situations where you might be asked to take charge? R
13. Do you take others take the lead when you are on a committee? R
14. Would you avoid a job which required you to supervise other people? R

Replication is one of the cornerstones of science. A new research result will normally require replication by later researchers before the truth and accuracy of the observation concerned is generally accepted. If a result is to be replicated, however, careful specification of the original research procedure is important.

In questionnaire research it has been my observation that the results are fairly robust as to questionnaire format. It is the content of the question that matters rather than how the question is presented (But see here and here). It is nonetheless obviously desirable for an attempted replication to follow the original procedure as closely as possible so I have given here samples of how I presented my questionnaires in most of the research I did. On all occasions, respondents were asked to circle a number to indicate their response.

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