Journal of Social Psychology 1986, 126, 249-250.



School of Sociology University of New South Wales, Australia

IN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL LITERATURE, the concept of directiveness seems to have been used first by Bastine, Eckert, Schmook, Bischoff, and Charlton (1970). They were interested in teacher attitudes, and to them, the concept was the opposite of permissiveness. Lorr and Youniss (1973) appear to have independently reinvented the concept as an aspect of their studies of assertiveness. Ray (1976) also turned to the concept to represent the core element of authoritarianism. All three produced reliable scales of the concept, and in all three scales, the concept seems to refer to some sort of domineering behavior.

That three groups of authors independently used the same concept suggests an interest in the concept, but it also gives rise to the question of whether the three usages are in fact operationally the same. Examining the comparative validity of the three scales should throw some light on that question.

The 16-item Bastine et al. (1970) scale was translated from German by the first author and was included in a questionnaire together with the 8-item Lorr and Youniss (1973) scale and the 14-item Mark III Ray (1976) scale. Several classes of students were asked to administer the scales to people they knew under the constraints that fellow students were to be avoided and that at least one out of every three respondents should be a manual worker. Each student also rated the respondents on the following eight relevant adjectives: authoritarian, dominant, directive, aggressive, rigid, ambitious, submissive, and assertive. Steps were taken to ensure that the ratings and questionnaire responses were done independently.

A sample (N = 106) that was roughly representative of the general population was obtained. The Bastine et al. (1970) and Lorr and Youniss (1973) scales correlated .58 and .68, respectively, with the Ray (1976) scale. The Bastine et al. and Lorr and Youniss scales themselves correlated .59. None of the three scales correlated significantly with rigidity, and ambition was predicted only by the Ray and the Lorr and Youniss scales. Excluding these, however, all scales predicted all ratings significantly (p < .05), and in all cases, the Ray scale gave the strongest prediction. The highest predictions were dominance (.53), authoritarianism (.52), and assertiveness (.50).

Perhaps the most interesting outcome of the study is that the conceptual differences underlying the three scales were not realized empirically. A scale designed to measure authoritarianism (the Ray, 1976, scale) predicted assertiveness better than did a scale (the Lorr and Youniss, 1973, scale) designed to measure assertiveness (.50 vs. .36). Academic distinctions between such apparently diverse concepts as assertiveness and authoritarianism appear to be poorly mirrored in reality as here measured..


Bastine, R., Eckert, J., Schmook, C., Bischoff, R., & Charlton, M. (1970). Beitraege zur Konstrukt-Validierung des Fragebogens zur Direktiven Einstellung (FDE). Zeitschrift fur Entwicklungspsychologie und Paedagogische Psychologie, 2(1), 47-59.

Lorr, M., & Youniss, R. P. (1973). An inventory of interpersonal style. Journal of Personality Assessment, 37(2), 165-173.

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

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