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Bracewell
Authoritarianism – Discussion & Literature Review 
14th-Jul-2006 10:29 am

Right Wing Personalities 
have greater trouble remembering what they read 
and making correct inferences


 
...  RESULTS  FROM  BELOW ...
As predicted, for both samples, the authoritarianism scores covaried significantly with total cognitive task performance so that as the authoritarianism scores increased cognitive performance decreased.
            When the acquisition of new material was in written format, authoritarianism interacted with reading skills to limit recognition and retention of new information.
            When new material was presented orally, in a manner similar to that of a radio or television news broadcast or the giving of testimony during a trial, the task of retaining that information was significantly impacted by authoritarianism (accounting for 13% of the variance in recognition performance by the student sample).
            Subjects in both student and juror samples who scored high in authoritarianism also made significantly more inferential errors.
            The data from this study strongly suggests that authoritarianism as a personality variable covaries significantly with a lessened ability of an individual to process incoming information with reasonable care and accuracy. 
 
… START OF ARTICLE …
Theodor Adorno's research on authoritarian personalities was aimed at explaining why "Good Germans" went along with the Nazis.   Authoritarian personality theory may explain how someone can continue to support the corrupt.  
Authoritarianism is a personality trait operationally defined in terms of:
1) a high degree of compliance with socially-accepted authorities;
2) aggressiveness toward persons that is believed to be sanctioned by established authorities;
3) a high degree of adherence to social conventions believed to be favored by society and established authority (Altemeyer, 1996).
 
The two primary instruments for measuring authoritarianism are the F-scale (Fascism) (Adorno et al., 1950) and the RWA-scale (Right-Wing Authoritarianism) (Altemeyer, 1981, 1988, 1996).    Adorno pursued the twofold objective of showing that punitive child-rearing practices produced authoritarian adults and that these adults tended to hold socially conservative and discriminatory views.
 
The F-scale sorted subjects according to nine variables including:
1) conventionalism (conformity to approved social practices):
2) authoritarian submission (compliance with authority),
3) authoritarian aggression (behavioral or
4) attitudinal aggression directed at out-groups),
5) superstition and stereotypy (belief in mystical determinants of fate &  rigid categorization);
6) preoccupation with power and toughness (identify with power figures, assertion of power);
7) exaggerated concern with sexual "goings on."
 
Although Adorno had difficulty showing correlation between parenting practices and social beliefs; he did show correlation between higher F-scale scores and both social / political conservatism and discriminatory beliefs.   
 
Stanley Milgram reported that the more compliant subjects in obedience tests scored higher the F-scale  (Elms, 1972).
 
Bob Altemeyer confirmed the connection between authoritarianism and conservative and discriminatory beliefs but was again unable to demonstrate a correlation between punitive parenting and authoritarianism.   Altemeyer's RWA-scale (a simplified F-scale) that focuses on authoritarian aggression, authoritarian submission, and conventionalism as expressed in behavior and stated opinions.   Altemeyer's use of "right wing denotes identification with the status quo rather than any particular set of social or political opinions (Stalinists are as "right wing" as McCarthyites).
 
Another common measure, the SDO (Social Dominance Orientation) scale aims at identifying preferences for equal versus hierarchical intergroup relations (of little relevant to current discussion.)
 
Even after more than fifty years, there is little evidence of a correlation between punitive parenting styles and authoritarianism. W.F. Stone’s editing of “Strength and Weakness: The Authoritarian Personality Today” (1933) did not establish this linkage.  Milburn and Conrad's “The Politics of Denial,” adopting the psychodynamic approach also offered no new data on parenting-authoritarianism linkage.   They did demonstrate a correlation between higher RWA scores and both support for military intervention and capital punishment and opposition to abortion.
 
(Note that Altemeyer crafted the RWA to test for general identification with and support for the status quo. Consequently, Milburn and Conrad's data may simply show that certain conservative causes are currently well entrenched in the country and that the authoritarians have aligned themselves accordingly.)
 
Bob Altemeyer's RWA-scale has become a staple of social research, and, as a result, a vivid composite portrait of the authoritarian personality is emerging.
 
Authoritarian personality characteristics:
1) are less likely than most people to demonstrate self-awareness (Altemeyer, 1999) and
2) are more likely to favor religious beliefs over scientific data when the two appear to be in conflict (Westman et al., 2000).
3) exhibit more self-reported fear than the general population (Eigenberger, 1999),
4) tend to be prepared to cut low-status offenders more slack than high status offenders (Feather, 2002).
5) correlate with security values such as national strength and order, religiosity, and propriety in dress and manners (Heaven, 2001),
6) and individuals with high RWA scores tend to indicate negative attitudes toward homosexuality than the high SDO-scale (Whitley, et al., 2001).
7) individuals with high RWA scores may have greater trouble remembering what they read and making correct inferences (Wegmann, M.F. 1992).
 
References
1) Adorno, T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.,& Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
2) Altemeyer, B. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. Manitoba: The University of Manitoba Press.
3) Altemeyer, B. (1988). Enemies of freedom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
4) Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press.
5) Altemeyer, B. (2000). To thine own self be untrue: Self-awareness in authoritarians. North American journal of psychology, 12, 157-164.
6) Eigenburger, M.E. (1999). Fear as a correlate of authoritarianism. Psychological reports, 83, 1395-1409.
7) Elms, A.C. (1972). Acts of submission. Chapter 4 of Social psychology and social relevance. Boston, MA: Little Brown.
8) Feather, N.T. (2002). Reactions to supporters and opponents of uranium mining in relation to status, attitude, similarity, and right-wing authoritarianism. Journal of applied social psychology, 32, 1464-1487.
9) Heaven, P.C. & Conners, J.R. (2001). A note on the value correlates of social dominance-orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. Personality and individual differences, 31, 925-930.
10) Milburn, M.A.&Conrad, S.D. (1996). The politics of Denial. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
11) Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
12) Pratto, F. (1999). The puzzle of continuing group inequality: Piecing together psychological, social, and cultural forces in social dominance theory. In M.P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 31, pp. 191-263). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
13) Stone, W.F., Lederer, G., Christie, R., Eds. (1992). Strength and weakness: The authoritarian personality today. New York: Springer-Verlag.
14) Van Hiel, A. & Mervielde, I. (2002). Explaining conservative beliefs and political preferences: A comparison of social dominance orientation and authoritarianism. Journal of applied social psychology, 32, 965-976.
 
15) Wegmann, M.F. (1992). Information processing deficits of the authoritarian mind. Ph.D. dissertation,Fielding Institute, Santa Barbera, CA.
ABSTRACT:
For several decades, researchers have explored the possible links between authoritarianism and deficits in various aspects of cognitive functioning. This study carries the exploration forward with refinements in the cognitive tasks explored, the experimental setting, and the criterion measures used.
EXPERIMENTAL   DESIGN
Two samples were used in a cross validation design: 50 community college students (mean age of 26 years) and 29 registered voters recently assigned to jury duty (mean age of 58). All subjects completed a recent version of the Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale developed by Robert Altemeyer and answered additional questions about habits of voting, news media utilization, and jury experience.
Three early-state information processing tasks were used:
(1) content recognition of a news article 2 minutes after exposure,
(2) content recognition of a recorded debate 2 minutes after exposure, and
(3) the selection of correct inferential statements about a set of brief paragraphs taken from the Watson and Glasser Critical Thinking Appraisal Test.
The experimental setting utilized a computer laboratory with an interactive program that guided and monitored each subject through all phases of the study.
RESULTS
As predicted, for both samples, the authoritarianism scores covaried significantly with total cognitive task performance so that as the authoritarianism scores increased cognitive performance decreased.
When the acquisition of new material was in written format, authoritarianism interacted with reading skills to limit recognition and retention of new information.
When new material was presented orally, in a manner similar to that of a radio or television news broadcast or the giving of testimony during a trial, the task of retaining that information was significantly impacted by authoritarianism (accounting for 13% of the variance in recognition performance by the student sample).
Subjects in both student and juror samples who scored high in authoritarianism also made significantly more inferential errors.The data from this study strongly suggests that authoritarianism as a personality variable covaries significantly with a lessened ability of an individual to process incoming information with reasonable care and accuracy. 
 
16) Westman, A.S., Willink, J. & McHoskey J.W. (2000). On perceived conflicts between religion and science: The role of fundamentalism and right-wing authoritarianism. Psychological reports, 86, 379-385.
17) Whitley, B.E. & Lee, S.E. (2001). The relationship of authoritarianism and related constructs to attitudes toward homosexuality. Journal of applied social psychology, 30, 144-170.
Comments 
21st-Jul-2006 02:18 am (UTC) - conservatism
Anonymous

http://www.bloggernews.net/2006/07/more-junk-psychology.html
21st-Jul-2006 05:42 pm (UTC) - Re: conservatism
FROM ARTICLE TEXT:
Altemeyer's use of "right wing denotes identification with the status quo rather than any particular set of social or political opinions (Stalinists are as "right wing" as McCarthyites).
---------------------------

Thank you for the link and commentary, which perhaps falls a little short on complete understanding the article (see text above).

The link provided said that since the term "right wing" is a connotation for a political philosopy, and that article uses another definition for the term, then: "leftists" are substandard.

The link concludes:
"The idea that conservatives oppose all change is so totally brain-dead that anybody who believes it must never have talked to a real live conservative."
-----------------------------------

TEXT FROM ARTICLE:
Authoritarian personality characteristics:
7) individuals with high RWA scores may have greater trouble remembering what they read and making correct inferences (Wegmann, M.F. 1992).







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