This article was written for the academic journals in 1989 but was not accepted for publication


John J. Ray

University of New South Wales, Australia


It is proposed that experimentation is not the only source of information about behavior and that its results are of unknown generalizability. Peer ratings also have their faults (e.g. subjectivity) as sources of information about behavior but can have high generalizability. As research into authoritarianism using the F scale has proved inconclusive, it is proposed to study the characteristics of the authoritarian by intercorrelating peer ratings of authoritarianism and other attributes. In Study I (N = 84) rated authoritarianism was found to go with non-submissiveness, aggression, rigidity and achievement motivation. In Study II (N = 82), it was found to go with dominance, aggression, non-submissiveness, rigidity of thinking, achievement motivation and racism. Authoritarianism and achievement motivation scales in behavior inventory format were also found to correlate highly significantly and both scales predicted peer-rated authoritarianism highly significantly. It was concluded that authoritarian behavior may often be the outcome of achievement motivation.


In the eighth book on authoritarianism to be written since the work of Adorno et al. (1950), Altemeyer (1981) once again came to the conclusion that the "California" theses are still essentially "not proven" and that the F scale is not valid as a measure of what it purports to measure except in some fairly trivial ways. Altemeyer's work has been praised by many reviewers for its methodological thoroughness and there can surely now be no doubt that new approaches to the study of authoritarianism are needed if knowledge in the area is to advance (Christie & Jahoda, 1954; Rokeach, 1960; Kirscht & Dillehay, 1967; McKinney, 1973; Kreml, 1977; Kool, 1980; Heaven, 1980).

One such approach that has been considerably developed in recent years is the measurement of authoritarianism by way of a behavior inventory rather than by an attitude scale. The scale most used is called the "Directiveness" scale and it was developed to measure a conception of authoritarianism very similar to that underlying the Adorno et al. (1950) studies -- i.e. it was designed to measure Nazi-type behavior. This has been summarized as domineering and aggressive behavior (Ray, 1976 & 1981b). Where an attitude scales asks the respondent's opinion about great issues in the world around him, the Directiveness scale asks direct questions about how the person characteristically behaves. It asks him if he is domineering and aggressive. This approach may seem exceedingly simple-minded but the failure of the covert and ingenious approach used by Adorno et al, may perhaps mean that at least an initial regression to simpler strategies may be necessary.

A series of studies with the Directiveness scale has revealed the authoritarian as very different from his description by Adorno et al. (1950). He tends to be better educated and of higher occupational status (Ray, 1983); achievement-motivated, unalienated and internally-controlled (Ray, 1979d); tough-minded (Ray & Bozek, 1981 ), hostile (Ray, 1980d) and tolerant of ambiguity (Ray, 1980b). He (or she) is not particularly likely to be racist (Ray, 1980a & 1981c) or conservative (Ray, 1979c & 1982a). Just as sociobiologists tend to regard dominance and aggression as adaptive among primates (Burnet, 1970), so authoritarianism would seem to be adaptive among humans (Ray, 1979d & 1981b).

The above studies have followed the well-worn path of Adorno et al. (1950) in that they were essentially correlational. One of the prime objections to the Adorno et al. studies, however, was that correlating pencil and paper tests tells us little (Titus & Hollander, 1957). The primary response to this problem so far has been to show that the Directiveness scale is in fact a quite strong predictor of peer-rated authoritarian behavior by the standards of what is usually observed with personality tests (Ray, 1976, 1981b Ray & Lovejoy, 1983 ). The Directiveness scale was, for instance, shown to correlate .54 with peer rated authoritarian behavior where a scale of attitude to authority correlated only .19 (Ray, 1976).

The use of peer ratings as a validity criterion may require some comment. Where a laboratory experiment might tell us something about a person's behavior in one particular context (often a very contrived context) with great objectivity and accuracy, the generalizability of that behavior is intrinsically unknown. Peer ratings, by contrast, treat the rater (particularly if he knows the ratee well) as an accumulative data bank about the person's everyday or characteristic behavior. Thus the generalizability of information obtained from peer ratings is high even if the degree of objectivity is less than ideal. Both experimental and peer rating methods of assessing actual behavior do, then, have their strengths (and weaknesses), For the purposes of scale validation, it did seem that generalizability was the sine qua non.

Peer ratings do, however, have a potentially wider use than as simple information about whether a scale measures what it purports to measure. If they provide information about behavior at all, then it should also be of some interest to examine their intercorrelations. The correlations between the Directiveness scale and other scales provide us with one picture of the authoritarian. Does the same picture emerge from the correlations between peer rated authoritarianism and ratings of other behaviors? Some data on this is offered below.


Other findings from this study have been reported elsewhere (Ray, 1981b) so only basic methodological details will be given here. The Ray (1976) Directiveness scale was administered by a class of second-year Sociology students at the University of New South Wales (Australia) to people they knew under the constraint that people in the humbler occupations were to be preferred. This "constraint" was to counteract the usual middle-class bias of samples so gathered. There were finally 84 interviewees. Each interviewee was also rated by the student contacting him (without the interviewee's knowledge) on a total of seven attributes. These were:

1). This person is authoritarian (desires or tends to impose his own will on others";
2). this person is submissive (tends to accept direction from others);
3) This person desires to be a success in the world;
4). This person takes pleasure in achieving things for themselves;
5). This person is aggressive;
6) This person is rigid in his ideas;
7). This person gets on well with other people;

Although it was not particularly designed as such, the final sample of 84 interviewees did approximate in its distribution of demographic characteristics a random population sample of the Sydney Metropolitan area (where the University of New South Wales is located). This was judged by comparisons of age, sex, education and occupation distributions with the distributions of the same attributes in contemporaneous random doorstep samples. There were a total of seventeen raters.

The correlations of the ratings both with one another and with the Directiveness scale are given below in Table 1.


Correlations of seven ratings and scores on the Directiveness scale
........................... Auth..... Subm.. Succ.. Task.... Aggr.... Rig....Sociable
Directiveness........ .51 ...... -.37 .... .44.... .05....... .31...... .26..... -.07
Authoritarian...................... -.42.... .38..... .09....... .56...... .45..... -.22
Submissive................................... -.24.... -.08...... -.35..... -.26...... .04
Success-oriented...................................... .05....... .24...... .28..... -.20
Task-oriented........................................................ .05...... .18...... .02
Aggressive........................................................................ .56..... -.46
Rigid............................................................................................ -.48

N = 84

The level of the correlation required for significance at the .05 level is .21. It will be seen, then, that there are many points of contact between the picture of the authoritarian that emerges from scale intercorrelations and that which emerges from the correlations of the Directiveness scale peer ratings. The high scorer on the Directiveness scale is again shown as authoritarian, not submissive, ambitious, and aggressive. The one discordant note is that he is seen as rigid. Intercorrelations of self-report scales tend to indicate the opposite. It must be conceded, however, that the validity of self-report measures of cognitive style is exceedingly questionable (Bochner, 1965; Ray, 1979b,1981c & 1984; Ray & Bozek, 1981 ). The peer ratings, therefore, may on this occasion provide the most reliable information.

Of greatest interest for the purposes of the present paper, however, is the second line of intercorrelations in the table. We see from this that people who are seen as authoritarian are also seen as not submissive, ambitious, aggressive and rigid. They are also somewhat likely to be seen as unsociable. With the exception of the last finding (which is in any case of only borderline significance), this replicates exceedingly closely how the high scorer on the Directiveness scale was seen. The most unexpected finding so far is surely the perception of the authoritarian as achievement motivated. This is true of the correlation between the Directiveness scale and achievement motivation scales (Ray, 1982e), of the correlation between the Directiveness scale and peer-rated success-orientation, and of the correlation between rated authoritarianism and rated success-orientation. Such a triple replication makes the finding seem very solid indeed.

While the correlation between authoritarianism on the one hand and rigidity and aggressiveness on the other hand is very much in accord with the Adorno et al. (1950) account, a surely discordant finding is the relationship between domineering and submissive behavior. To Adorno et al, the authoritarian was at once domineering and servile. The person who desired to impose his own will on others should also have been seen as someone who accepted direction from others. Again by all criteria this was not so: The "dominant" and "submissive" items of the Directiveness scale tend to correlate highly negatively (Ray, 1976); The Directiveness scale correlated negatively with peer-rated submissiveness (p < 001); and the two ratings of domineering and submissive behavior correlated highly negatively. Domineering and submissive behavior are opposites, not concomitants.


This study was designed to include further examination of the connection between authoritarianism and achievement motivation. It therefore included not only the Ray (1976) Directiveness scale (this time in a short form of 14 items -- See Ray, 1980a) but also the Ray-Lynn Achievement Orientation ("AO") scale in its 14-item short form (Ray, 1979a, 1980c). Although it was already known that these two scales correlate significantly on most occasions of their administration (Ray, 1982b), they are conceptually quite distinct and have been shown to be factorially separate (Ray, 1980e).

The peer ratings obtained on this occasion were also more extensive. They were as follows:

1), This person tends to be dominant over others;
2). This person tends to be aggressive;
3). This person tends to be authoritarian (i.e. he/she desires or tends to impose his/her own will on others);
4). This person tends to be submissive to direction from others;
5). This person tends to be orderly in his/her habits;
6). This person is respectful of authority;
7). This person is ambitious;
8). This person tends to dislike immigrants;
9). This person tends to dislike Jews;
10). This person tends to dislike Aborigines (blacks);
11). This person tends to be-rigid in his/her thinking.

Again other details of this study have been given elsewhere (Ray & Lovejoy, 1983 ) so only basic details will be given here.

The methodology was exactly as in the previous study but all events took place one year later (i.e. in 1981). There were 16 raters and 82 interviewees. Again the demographic structure of the sample was very representative. The intercorrelations observed are given in Table 2.

Click here to view Table 2

All the conclusions from the first study were confirmed from the results of the second study with some interesting additions. High scorers on the Directiveness scale were found to be more characterized by dominance and aggression than by authoritarianism per se. The correlation between the scale and the authoritarianism rating was however well down on the .54 and .51 observed in the two previous studies of the relationship and may suggest that when the raters had to rate respondents on both dominance and authoritarianism, the rating "authoritarian" was reserved for the more obnoxious forms of dominance. The fact that high scorers on the achievement motivation scale were in fact rated as more authoritarian than high scorers on the Directiveness scale surely cannot however be ignored. People who describe themselves as ambitious are seen by others as authoritarian. Their ambition is also perceived but both the love of success and the love of domination are seen as approximately equal influences on their behavior. This finding is not totally without precedent. A "Task-orientation" scale with content generically similar to the present "AO" scale correlated .40 with peer-rated "authoritarianism" (Ray, 1973 ) and an achievement motivation scale in a modified adjective check-list format correlated .19 with the rating "Tends to boss others around" (Ray, 1981a). With Ns-of respectively 74 and 87 both correlations are significant at the <. 05 level.

The main interest on the present occasion, however, is the relationships between the peer-ratings themselves. People rated as "authoritarian" were also seen as: Dominant, aggressive, non-submissive, ambitious, rigid and racially prejudiced. They were not however especially orderly in their habits or respectful of authority. This latter finding is a particularly strong blow against the Adorno et al (1950) conceptualization. To them it was axiomatic that a person who behaved in an authoritarian way was respectful of authority. They are not. People who were seen as respectful of authority were in fact unaggressive, submissive, orderly in their habits and rigid in their thinking. They were not, however, racist.

Correlations above .22 were significant at the .05 level.


There can be no doubt that consideration of the peer-rating correlations supports three conclusions already firmly established from consideration of scale intercorrelations: Domineering behavior and respect for authority are orthogonal and must not be confused; Domineering behavior and achievement motivation are highly significantly interrelated (Ray, 1970 &1980e; Ray & Lovejoy, 1983 ); domineering and submissive behavior are opposites, not concomitants (Ray, 1976).

Before we can be tempted to use the interrelations between peer perceptions as evidence about behavior, an important question that must arise is how much the interrelationships observed are a product of rater preconceptions rather than of actual behavioral covariance. To eliminate the first possibility, raters were in both studies as a preliminary to the exercise given an extensive account of authoritarianism research to date in which both the attractiveness and the poor fit to reality of the Adorno et al. (1950) hypotheses were stressed. It was stressed to them that all relationships in the field were essentially an open question and that they should endeavour to make each rating independently. They were (for instance) to feel no embarrassment or inconsistency if it seemed proper for them to rate someone as both dominant and submissive. Like the "be frank" exhortations that generally precede questionnaires, such instructions may not have succeeded entirely in eliminating undesired sets to respond but it is the essence of working at the frontiers of any science that the data cannot ever be perfect. Our response to that imperfection (multi-measure and multi-modal replication of the findings) does however seem to have worked very well on the present occasion. All lines of evidence pointed consistently to the three main conclusions outlined above.

Some of the more subsidiary conclusions were, however, less well-supported. In particular, a consistent relationship between dominant behavior and racism stands out. By contrast, the correlation between the Directiveness scale and self-reported racial attitudes is consistently non-significant (Ray 1980a & 1981c). Even a cluster analysis (McQuitty, 1961) of the peer-ratings in Study II reveals only two clusters -- one centred on rated dominance and one centred on rated attitude to immigrants. The correlation (.31) between these two variables is then far from adventitious. It is reflected throughout the matrix as a general tendency of the two types of variable to go together.

Faced with such a conflict between two types of data, one has, at least in the interim, to make a choice. Since self-insight is notoriously lacking and the peer ratings are presumably closer to behavior than are self-ratings, we might perhaps conclude that there was some insight after all in the association Adorno et al. saw between these two variables. Dominant people may be especially hard on minority group members. It could be argued in fact that to be dominant implies by its very nature some sort of contest of strength and that minority group membership is simply one of the many conditions that puts individuals at a disadvantage in such contests. Thus when raters say that some particular dominant person "dislikes immigrants", they may simply be inferring a dislike from the fact that that person behaves in an oppressive way towards immigrants (as he would towards anybody in a "weak" position). Whether the dominant person actually "feels" a particular dislike of immigrants as such may however simply be a different question. The fact that attitudes, feelings and sentiments on the one hand and actions and behavior on the other tend to have surprisingly little relationship (at least in the field of race relations) has long been noted (La Piere, 1934; Ray, 1971 & 1976).

In the Introduction to this paper it was noted that the attributes of the authoritarian as revealed by correlations of other scales with the Directiveness scale suggested that the authoritarian may be at a similar adaptive advantage in human society to the dominant animal of an animal group or society (Burnet, 1970). Do the peer-rating intercorrelations support this? Unfortunately, the position is not entirely clear. Adaptive advantage would be extremely hard to define for a human society so it would often be very arbitrary indeed to say what attributes are most likely to promote it. The fact that rigidity is significantly related to all attributes covered in Study II above (with the exception of respect for authority and rated ambition) might lead us to say that the domineering authoritarian is clearly at a disadvantage. But is rigidity of thinking a disadvatntage? Jaensch (1938) thought that it was an obvious sign of biological superiority. Adorno et al. (1950) came along and reversed Jaensch's value-judgment. Jaensch was a Nazi. Adorno was a Marxist. Is either right or is it all a matter of ideology? The Adorno arguments are well-known, so let us consider some counter-arguments. Is there not a sense in which the opposite of rigidity in thinking is to be scatter-brained? Does rigidity of thinking imply perseverence with difficult or unpopular tasks? Surely to the mediaeval world Galileo must have seemed pathologically rigid in continuing to think (against the most obvious evidence) that the world was round? When we compare a scientist who pursues an obscure theory for many years with the dilettante who changes his opinions with every passing fashion who is the more rigid and who is of the more use to the world? Cannot open-mindedness be empty-headedness? Might not rigidity of thinking be determination by another name? Surely we have all heard the schoolboy "declension": "I am firm; you are stubborn; he is pig-headed"? Perhaps the sociobiological analogies are again the most persuasive: If a dominant male in an animal society is to preserve his breeding monopoly, he has to be very single-minded in repressing potential rivals. Single mindedness may sometimes be the route to survival. Similar arguments could be advanced in respect of aggression.

Of the three main findings summarized at the beginning of this section, it is surely the relationship between authoritarianism and achievement motivation that is most original. Presumably no-one (other than Adorno et al.) is surprised to find that dominance and submission are opposites or that domineering behavior and respect for authority are unrelated but what are we to make of authoritarian behavior being associated with achievement motivation? The two constructs must be two of the most popular in post-war psychology so the relationship is surely noteworthy.

Perhaps the simplest explanation is in terms of Rokeach's (1973) distinction between terminal and instrumental values. Some people dominate others because they just enjoy it (terminal value) and others dominate others in order to obtain assistance in achieving sonething else they are seeking (instrumental value). If domination is a terminal value the person is an authoritarian; if it is an instrumental value the person is achievement motivated. In other words, dominating others may simply be one of the things that the ambitious person just has to do in his scramble towards the top. Since, however, materialistic achievement is one of the core values of contemporary Western society (and of the Protestant Ethic) to decry dominance of one man by another may be setting ourselves against some of the most central imperatives of our culture. Lovers of liberty may therefore need at least the fortitude of Galileo.


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