The Journal of Social Psychology, 1980, 112, 307-308.


University of New South Wales, Australia


Central to the California account of authoritarianism was the view that the authoritarian is chronically hostile towards others. In fact component "g" of the F scale is described as measuring "Generalized hostility" (1). As a proposed explanation of the phenomena of German Nazism, authoritarianism to a very considerable extent consisted of an explanation of hostility. The California theory, however, has always been difficult to test because of the problems with their central measuring instrument -- the F scale. Two of these problems are its openness to acquiescent response set and its lack of behavioral validity (2). These problems, however have now been substantially overcome by the emergence of a successful balanced version of the F scale (3) and the emergence of a new scale of authoritarian personality (the "Directiveness" scale) that does predict behavior (4). The present study retests the California theory using the new scales.

Short forms (14 items each) of the two new scales were combined in a questionnaire with items of the Buss--Durkee (5) Hostility inventory. Probably because of its comprehensive subscale structure, the Buss-Durkee inventory would appear to be the most widely used measure of hostility at the moment. Only subscales l, 2, 3, and 7 were included on the present occasion (6). These define Buss and Durkee's second or "behavioral" factor -- as distinct from the remaining "attitudinal" subscales. A small number of items were deleted as impolitic for inclusion in a random doorstep sample. Additionally, all items had to be cast into the "Do you behave" format rather than the original "I behave" format, again to enable their doorstep administration. The questionnaire was then administered to a random doorstep cluster sample (N = 108 females, 98 males) of the Sydney metropolitan area.

For males, the Directiveness scale correlated .366 (p < .01) with the overall Buss-Durkee score, while the Balanced F (BF) scale correlated .002 (N.S.). For females, the equivalent correlations were .244 (p < .025) and -.004 (N.S.). For neither males nor females was there any significant relationship between the BF scale and any of the Buss-Durkee subscales. For males, the Directiveness scale correlated significantly with all Buss-Durkee subscales except the "Indirect" subscale (rs of .279, .319, .284, and .133; Ps of <.01, <.01, <.01, and N.S.). For females, only the "Verbal" and "Indirect" subscales correlated significantly (p < .025) with the Directiveness scale (rs of .256 and .245).

The results with the Directiveness scale indicate that Adorno et al. were correct. Authoritarians do tend to be hostile. High scorers on the F scale were not, however, particularly hostile.


(1) Adorno. T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper, 1950. See Table i (VII).

(2) Titus. H. E., & Hollander, E. P. The California F scale in psychological research: 1950-1955. Psychological Bulletin 1957, 54, 47-64. Peabody, D. Authoritarianism scales and response bias. Psychological Bulletin 1966, 65, 11-23.

(3) Ray, J.J. (1972) A new balanced F scale -- And its relation to social class. Australian Psychologist 7, 155-166.

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

(5) Buss, A. H. & Durkee, A. An inventory for assessing different kinds of hostility. Journal of Consulting Psychology 1957, 21, 343-349.

(6) Cf Larsen, K. S., Coleman, D., Forbes, J., & Johnson, R. Is the subject's personality or the experimental situation a better predictor of a subject's willingness to administer shock to a victim? J. Personality & Social Psychology 1972, 22, 287-295.

School of Sociology, University of New South Wales P.O. Box 1, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia 2033

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