Personality Study and Group Behaviour, 1984, 4 (1), 8-12.


J. J. Ray


Scales of interpersonal authoritarianism and achievement motivation were administered to 305 randomly selected respondents in Bombay. Contrary to expectation, there was found to be no association between caste and authoritarianism or between education and achievement motivation. Explanations for the results are considered.


Although there is an extensive Indian literature on the topics of authoritarianism and achievement motivation (e. g. Kool, 1980; Mukherjee, 1968; Singh, 1979) it reports research which is almost entirely based on the responses of Indian college or university students. With some notable exceptions (Nandy, 1975; Singh, 1976) we hear almost nothing about the Indian man in the street. Very few true samples of any population seem in fact to be reported in the Indian social science literature. It would seem, therefore, to be important to make. the maximum possible use of such general population samples as are available. The present paper, therefore, presents a re-analysis of some data gathered recently in a random cluster sample of the city and suburbs of Bombay. The sample was gathered primarily to enable international comparison (between urban Indians and urban Australians, Englishmen, Americans etc ) and this comparison is already available elsewhere (Ray, 1982). The sample was however large enough (N=305) to be dissected into at least broad caste and educational categories and it seems of some interest to examine variations in authoritarianism and achievement motivation between such categories.

The most obvious hypotheses would appear to be that higher caste people should be more authoritarian (in the sense of dominance) and that better educated people should be more achievement motivated. In most societies, education is one of the high roads to economic and social advancement so more ambitious people should be more likely to put the effort into obtaining it (Ray, 1981a). In the case of authoritarianism the prediction is somewhat more complex. As conceived by Adorno et al. (1950) and their Indian successors (Nandy, 1976), authoritarianism is a complex attribute comprising simultaneous dominance of inferiors and submissiveness to superiors. In recent years, however, this conception seems to have foundered on the fact that dominance and submissiveness are negatively rather than positively correlated (Ray, 1976, 1981b, Ray & Lovejoy, 1983). Existing authoritarianism scales are sensitive either to dominance or submissiveness but none correlate positively with both. As dominating behaviour would seem to be the minimum and irreducible core meaning of the term "authoritarian", (Ray, 1976), it is proposed to use the term with that meaning only in this paper. Authoritarianism, however, is not of course synonymous with dominance. As usually used, it refers to dominance of a particular type -- aggressive, anti-social, inconsiderate, etc. In an Indian context, the caste system would seem to be a rather obvious place to observe such behaviour. It certainly seems to give at least some people the opportunity both to dominate and to despise those "under" them (Anant, 1970).


Full details of the research methodology are given elsewhere (Ray, 1982) so only a few summary details will be given here. A random cluster sample (N=305) of the Bombay conurbation was interviewed by multilingual Indian interviewers under the supervision of a local market research firm. They were supplied with an interview schedule containing the Ray (1980) "AO" (Achievement Orientation) scale and the Ray (1976. & 1981b) 'Directiveness" scale. The scales were available in Marathi, Gujurati and Hindi translation as well as in English. The latter scale has been shown to be a good predictor of authoritarian behavior (Ray, 1976, 1981b). The California F scale was not used because of its doubtful validity (Titus, 1968; Ray & Lovejoy, 1983) and because of doubts about its intercultural transferability (Ray, 1981c). Non-projective measurement of achievement motivation was used because of its greater adaptability to public opinion poll interviewing.


The two scales were used only in their more reliable "Indian" versions (See Ray, 1982). Scores were quadrichotomized in terms of their possible range and tabulated against the demographic variables. Caste was scored in seven categories [1] and education in four. None of the four resultant tables showed significant chi-squareds.


Bombay has long been India's most Westernized city and it is therefore very encouraging to see that in Bombay there was no detectable influence of caste on either authoritarianism or achievement motivation. One cannot generalize from Bombay to the rest of present-day India but the Bombay results do at least provide some augury of what India in the future could be like. If the effects of the caste system can be eliminated in important respects in Bombay, then it should also be possible to eliminate them in India generally. In Bombay today, dominant people are equally likely to be found in any major subdivision of the caste system --as are ambitious people.

The failure of education to predict authoritarianism and achievement motivation runs contrary to results in the "West" (Ray, 1976 & 1981a) but it should be noted that even in the West, such correlations are generally low. In this context it should be noted that some discriminating power is lost when scores on a scale are grouped into categories. Such a grouping was necessary in the present study so that the relationship with caste could be studied. In spite of its hierarchical nature, there are important ways in which caste does not show linear features. As well as being a hierarchy, it is also a system of occupational specialization. For this reason to "score" each person's caste as a single position on one continuum could be very distorting. Caste can, in other words, only be seen as being a variable with nominal properties. An assumption of ordinal properties would be unjustified. Cross-tabulations and chi-squared were then the appropriate method of analysis.

Education, however, does have clearly ordinal properties at least and in fact does arguably have even interval and ratio properties. For this reason, a more powerful method of analysis than cross- tabulation can be justified. Education, therefore was also re-scored as an "interval" variable as follows : 1= Primary and sub-primary, 2= Some secondary education, 3= Full secondary education, 4= Tertiary. With this scoring, ordinary correlations could be calculated and education was found to correlate .134 and .010 with authoritarianism and achievement motivation respectively. The former is significant <.05. There is a slight tendency for dominance and better education to be associated but no tendency for ambition to be associated with any particular level of education. Since non-significant correlations between Directiveness scale score and education have been found from time to time in the West (Ray, 1983), it may be concluded that the picture in India is entirely typical -- a weak association between the two variables overall but no relationship of great explanatory use.

There would seem to be two main ways to explain the deviant nature of the Bombay results as far as education and achievement motivation is concerned. We could turn to the hypothesis advanced elsewhere (Ray 1982) to the effect that ambition in India tends to be expressed in fantasy ways rather than in ways that could realistically lead to attainment of its object. We could alternatively argue that the sluggish economic growth of India generally leads to there being very few opportunities for social mobility or advancement of one's relative position in life. Those who get higher levels of education are therefore very largely those who inherited the privilege by being born into a sufficiently prosperous family. There is little opportunity for one's personal desires to have much effect on how much education one gets. Both or either of these explanations could be true: There is no way in the present research to decide between them. An interesting opportunity for further research has, however, been revealed. In designing any future study, cognizance should perhaps be taken of the fact that the absolute level of achievement motivation observed in Bombay was high by international standards (Ray, 1982). It might also be relevant that achievement motivation has repeatedly been shown (Singh & Ray, 1980; Ray & Singh, 1980) to be very influential indeed in increasing economic productivity among middle-class Indian farmers.


1. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Kshudra, Scheduled, Non-Hindu, Not disclosed.


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

Anant, S.S. Caste prejudice and its perceptions by Harijans J. Social Psychology 1970, 82, 165-172.

Kool, V.K. Measures of authoritarianism and hostility, Bombay : Himalaya, 1980.

Mukherjee, B.N. Achievement values and scientific productivity. J Applied Psychology 1968, 52, 145-147.

Nandy, A. The acceptance and rejection of democratic norms in India. Indian J. Psychology, 1975, 50, 265-278.

Nandy, A. Adorno in India : Revisiting the Psychology of Fascism. Indian J. Psychol. 1976, S1, 168-178.

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

Ray, J.J. (1980) The comparative validity of Likert, projective and forced-choice indices of achievement motivation. J. Social Psychology, 111, 63-72.

Ray, J.J. (1981a) Measuring achievement motivation by immediate emotional reactions. J. Social Psychology, 113, 85-93.

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

Ray, J.J. (1981c) Achievement motivation and authoritarianism in Manila and some Anglo-Saxon cities. J. Social Psychology 115, 3-8.

Ray, J.J. (1982) Authoritarianism and achievement motivation in India. J. Social Psychology 117, 171-182.

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. (1983) The workers are not authoritarian: Attitude and personality data from six countries. Sociology & Social Research, 67 (2), 166-189.

Ray, J.J. & Singh, Satvir (1980) Effects of individual differences on productivity among farmers in India. Journal of Social Psychology 112, 11-17.

Singh, Satvir Achievement motivation and success in farming. British J. Projective Psychology & Personality 1976, 21, 17-20.

Singh, Satvir Relationships among projective and direct verbal measures of achievement motivation. J. Personality Assessment 1979, 43, 45-49.

Singh, Satvir & Ray, J.J. Modernization and development among Indian farmers : A modern proof of some old theories. Economic Development & Cultural Change 1980, 28, 509-521.

Titus, H.E. F scale validity considered against peer nomination criteria. Psychological Record 1968, 18, 395-403.

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