Sunday, December 9, 2012

Speaking of authoritarianism

I would be remiss if I did not make some mention of Bob Altemeyer's research. Altemeyer's work is, after all, the reason I got interested in authoritarianism in the first place. Most of his original research can be found in a number of peer-review journal articles, as well as in three books: Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Enemies of Freedom, and The Authoritarian Specter. The first two of those titles are out of print, but any decent university library will have them in its collection (or at least can get them to you via interlibrary loan). The last of those titles is still sold via Amazon and other book dealers. Altemeyer also has a free ebook, The Authoritarians, which provides a nice capsule summary of his work and its importance for a lay audience. Actually, even his scholarly work can be easily handled by those whose background might consist of little more than an introductory psychology course - he really is that good of a writer. Of course his own work builds upon the groundbreaking research of Adorno et al. (1950), whose book, The Authoritarian Personality, summarized their own extensive research program. A number of researchers still use their F-Scale, although its psychometric properties are somewhat questionable.

For a long time, I used Altemeyer's RWA questionnaire, although in recent years I have switched to the one developed by Funke (2005) - namely because the latter is briefer, and has better psychometric properties than either Altemeyer's RWA scale or the F-Scale. I have found from some pilot data that findings obtained with Funke's scale largely replicate findings I have obtained using Altemeyer's scale (plus I have the benefit of actually directly measuring authoritarian aggression, submission, and conventionalism).


Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Altemeyer, B. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Altemeyer, B. (1988). Enemies of freedom: Understanding right-wing authoritarianism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Funke, F. (2005). The dimensionality of right-wing authoritarianism: Lessons from the dilemma between theory and measurement. Political Psychology, 26, 195-218.

No comments:

Post a Comment