It is noted
that the authoritarian personality theory of Adorno et al is now
seldom referred to in race relations research and that the scale
used to operationalize the theory (the F scale) is a very poor measure
of what it purports to measure (Right-wing authoritarianism). The
F scale does have many correlates, however, and the work of Pflaum
is referred to support the contention that the F scale in fact taps
an old-fashioned orientation. A large correlational study by Kline
& Cooper is reinterpreted in this light and it is shown that
when pejorative assumptions are discarded, the old-fashioned person
would appear to have many potentially admirable characteristics.
The new understanding of what the F scale measures is also shown
to be helpful in making sense of the findings from many other studies.
the 'F' scale measures
as a means of explaining racism, the authoritarian personality theory
of Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford (1950) is now
little used for that purpose. Current research into race relations
or intergroup relations tends to give it at best token mention (e.g.
Doise, 1985; Cobas, 1986; Sniderman & Tetlock, 1986; Brewer
& Kramer, 1985; Messick & Mackie, 1989). This seems to be
because group loyalty is now generally seen as a universal human
attribute rather than as an attribute of deviants only. In the words
of one elementary textbook writer, ethnocentrism and stereotyping
are "universal ineradicable psychological processes" (Brown,
1986. See also Tajfel & Fraser, 1978). Another reason for disregarding
the Adorno et al work is that its chief measuring instrument (the
F scale) and key to the theory has been repeatedly shown as invalid.
It does not predict authoritarian behavior (Titus & Hollander,
1957; Titus, 1968; Altemeyer, 1981; Ray & Lovejoy, 1983) and
it is a poor predictor of political Rightism. In general population
samples, many Leftist voters get high scores on it (Hanson, 1975;
Ray, 1973b, 1983c, 1984 & 1985a).
is a considerable record of failure, it only tells part of the story.
The other side is of course the fact that vast numbers of articles
have been published wherein the F scale has been shown to have significant
relationships with other variables. The F scale may not measure
what it purports to measure but it does measure something that seems
to have an effect on many other variables. But what could this be?
If the scale does not measure what it was devised to measure, is
it likely that it adventitiously measures something else? If it
does not measure authoritarianism or political conservatism, what
could it measure that would produce the relationships observed?
We do of course
have Gabennesch's (1972) suggestion that a high F score represents
narrowness of world-view and a narrow breadth of perspective but
this would seem to come rather close to equating authoritarianism
with lack of education and the correlations between F scale score
and education are not generally high and have even been on some
occasions non-significant (See Table 1 in Ray, 1983a and also the
-.047 correlation discussed under a later heading in this paper).
There may therefore be some tendency for F scale scorers to be as
Gabennesch characterizes them but that is surely not the whole of
what the F scale measures.
Aside from the
Gabennesch work, however, no systematic investigation of alternatives
to authoritarianism as an explanation of what the F scale measures
appears to have been so far attempted in the literature (though
I have mentioned in passing the proposal to be explored here on
a number of previous occasions. See e.g. Ray, 1983c, 1987 and 1988),
but there is fortunately on record one finding that gives a very
strong clue about what the answer might be. Pflaum (1964) showed
that a parallel form of the 'F' scale could be produced from collections
of myths and superstitions that had been popular in the 1920's.
Now this is very strong data indeed. If Pflaum had simply shown
that the 'F' scale correlated with assent to popular myths and superstitions
of the past, that could simply be written off as just another interesting
finding of uncertain implication. The correlations Pflaum found,
however, were so high that they enabled claims that a parallel form
of the 'F' scale had been found. Pflaum has therefore made an explicit
discovery about what the F scale consists of. It is a collection
of old-fashioned myths and superstitions or statements that strongly
resemble them. Hartmann (1977) described the 'F' scale as a collection
of "Victorian" values (no doubt Biedemeyer values in the
German case) so the culture that produced 'F' scale type sentiments
may go back even earlier than the 1920's. At any event, it is clear
that the attitudes expressed in the 'F' scale were old-fashioned
even when the 'F' scale was compiled. How much more old-fashioned
they must be today! That they are is also shown by the fact that
the F scale always seems to correlate with age (e.g. Meloen, Hagendoorn,
Raaijmakers & Visser, 1988). Older people tend to get higher
scores on it.
of work which supports this interpretation of the F scale is the
finding by Alwin (1988) to the effect that the ideals for child
behavior in the U.S.A. have changed a lot since the 1920's. In the
20's conformity and obedience to authority were what was expected
of children. In present times, however, this is replaced by values
directed toward the child being more autonomous. So what do we find
in the F scale? About a third of the items stress the importance
of authority in general and several specifically advocate obedience
to authority by young people -- exactly what we would expect of
a scale embodying 1920's values. Putting it another way, the pro-authority
content of the F scale is an important part of its "old-fashionedness".
has also documented (for both Germany and the United States) the
authoritarian nature of child-rearing practices in the 1920's and
1930's. In short, a high 'F' scorer is not a Fascist but rather
someone who is still lost in the culture of the pre-war era. He
or she tends to be "old-fashioned". Since Hitler's Nazism
did strongly tend to romanticize the past and perhaps took some
of its values from the past, some understanding of how the two variables
got mixed up would seem possible. Adorno et al heard various expressions
of attitude from various sources in California that sounded to them
like what they had heard from Hitler. They mistakenly assumed that
the old-fashioned people who uttered these statements must also
be like Hitler. They did, of course attempt to substantiate their
suspicions empirically but their methods for doing so have long
ago been shown as prejudging the question (Christie & Jahoda,
1954; McKinney, 1973; Ray, 1973a). In other words, the "authoritarian"
was essentially a case of mistaken identity -- unless, of course,
someone wishes to propose that all old-fashioned people are Nazis.
no-one would propose that all old-fashioned people are Nazis. Nor
is it clear, in fact, that the Nazis were old-fashioned. They may
have romanticized the past but their military doctrine and technology,
for instance, were very advanced for the times -- as their several
years of initial military success showed (Dupuy, 1986). In the non-military
sphere, too, many Nazi preoccupations seem even today to be startlingly
modern -- beliefs in whole-grain bread, holistic medicine, ecology
etc. (Proctor, 1988). Proctor (1988) also points out that even Nazi
ideas of racial hygiene were and are essentially "normal"
science in the Kuhnian sense. Nazism and being old-fashioned are,
then, clearly far from being one and the same. What being old-fashioned
implies, then, must be studied in its own right. The problem of
value-judgments At this point it would be easy to conduct some new
research with the F scale that was guided by this new understanding
of what it measures. Given the vast volume of extant research with
the 'F' scale, however, this would surely be a wasteful strategy.
Could not one or many of the existing studies of the scale be re-used
to give us any information we need? It is proposed here that such
re-interpretation can usefully be done and some attempts at it by
way of example will be made. Before this can be done, however, a
very important caveat has to be entered. It needs to be pointed
out that the implications of 'F' scale research have never really
been straightforward and that interpretation has always been needed
before any conclusions were drawn.
This can perhaps
best be seen if it is realized that (Brown, 1965) the origin of
the authoritarian personality concept lies not with Adorno et al
(1950) but rather with the Nazi psychologist Jaensch (1938) -- who
appears to have initiated the suggestion that variables from the
psychology of perception could be used to index or explain personality.
His 'J Type' (later called "authoritarian") had strong,
clear, unambiguous perceptions and Jaensch presented this as being
obviously desirable. The 'J Type' became, then, the Nazi ideal.
Perhaps rather surprisingly, the group of Left-wing Jewish psychologists
(Adorno et al, 1950) who first undertook the task of explaining
Nazi-type character in the post-war era, appear to have accepted
the Nazi theory with little change. They adopted the judgments of
their oppressors (or would-be oppressors). Cf Bettelheim (1943).
The main (inevitable?) amendment they made to the theory was to
reverse the value judgments. Tolerance of ambiguity became desirable
where it previously had been seen as undesirable. The seeking of
a simple conceptual world became suspect.
Yet can it coherently
be suspect? Ever since Einstein first attempted it, the Holy Grail
of modern physics has been the search for a "unified field
theory" -- i.e. a simple explanation which integrates the explanation
of all the forces in the universe into a single theory. Physicists
want to simplify their conceptual world. Yet on a strict application
of the Adorno et al account are not Einstein and all his successors
simply showing their personal inadequacy by their search for simplicity?
That is surely obvious nonsense. The truth, of course, is that both
the desire for simplicity and tolerance of ambiguity can be adaptive
from time to time and from circumstance to circumstance. We cannot
oversimplify by saying that one or the other is overall more valuable,
adaptive or praiseworthy. Welsh (1981) recognizes this when he systematically
presents preference for structure and order as merely an alternative
to its opposite rather than as some sort of inferior orientation.
With the need
for caution about value-judgments in mind, we may then perhaps look
at a recent large study by Kline & Cooper (1984). In this study
a large number of possible correlates of the 'F' scale were surveyed.
The relationships observed should, then, tell us something about
the current correlates of being old-fashioned. While being old-fashioned
could be formally defined as: "Having attitudes, values, outlooks
and practices characteristic of the past" or some such, this
does not tell us much about just what those attitudes, values and
practices actually are at the present time. The Kline & Cooper
study should help us to find out. It should help give us an operational
definition of "old-fashioned". To begin, we might perhaps
look at what Kline & Cooper themselves thought that they had
found. They claimed that their results showed that "authoritarians"
are conscientious, conventional, conservative, and controlled, with
high will-power. They also found that "authoritarians"
were "anal" and low scorers on Eysenck's 'P' scale. The
pejorative tone of this description may be noted.
Since we now
know that the study of high 'F' scale scorers is not synonymous
with the study of political villains, however, any pejorative preconceptions
concerning what was found may be set aside. Instead, it seems reasonable
to say that Kline & Cooper showed that old-fashioned people
at the present time are especially "nice" to others (i.e.
low scorers on the Eysenck "P" scale), forceful, conscientious,
conservative and inclined to perfectionism with good self-control.
It will be noted that this description is not notably pejorative
and may even be slightly laudatory. What was presented by Kline
& Cooper (1984) as confirming the Adorno et al theory need bear
no such interpretation at all. It is, however, interesting information
about old-fashioned people.
An example of
where the Kline & Cooper findings need reinterpretation is in
the case of the Freudian term "anal". While there may
be some justification for using such an offensive label with clinical
populations, it is surely much less suitable for use and potentially
misleading with normal populations. The scale used to measure this
attribute is now out of print and Kline did not respond to a request
for a copy of it so one cannot be absolutely sure what it measures
but the proposal above that it be said to measure "perfectionism"
is unlikely to be too wide of the mark. Such a label would at least
contain a better balance between positive and negative connotations.
People such as scientists may be in considerable need of the tendency
to give obsessive attention to detail. Such attention may even be
needed for scientific progress. To characterize it in uniformly
pejorative ways is surely therefore inadequate.
that even Kline & Cooper saw a need to reinterpret was their
finding that "authoritarians" were especially low scorers
on the Eysenck 'P' scale. The simplest interpretation of this finding
is that "authoritarians" are especially sane. Such a conclusion
is, of course, very upsetting to the Adorno et al theory. What the
Eysenck 'P' scale measures, however, is not at all obvious. Despite
the name it is not simply a measure of Psychoticism and Eysenck
himself proposes that in normal populations the scale measures "tough-mindedness"
(Eysenck & Eysenck, 1976). The scale is, however, a factor analytic
product and, like most such, can be interpreted in a variety of
ways. In the present context the alternative might be considered
that the 'P' scale measures whether or not people are "nice"
to one-another. Thus Kline & Cooper appear to have found that
old-fashioned people are "nicer" than other people. Since
it appears to be a common occurrence today that people look back
to the past as a time of greater civility, this would be an eminently
understandable finding. The new understanding of what the 'F' scale
measures turns a troublesome finding into something much more easily
The other Kline
& Cooper variables that have been renamed need no elaborate
explanation. Kline & Cooper rely heavily in their work on the
Cattell "16PF" and the naming of those scales has always
been to some extent problematical. The fact that Cattell himself
had to invent or disinter many words to name his scales ("surgency",
"rhathymia" etc.) is fairly clear evidence of that. There
certainly need to be no pejorative assumptions concerning their
implications. It is in the end all a matter of interpretation and
no-one can be dogmatic either way.
It seems at
least possible, however, that being old-fashioned could be quite
creditable. Old-fashioned people do not sound very difficult to
live with. Being conscientious and self-controlled could be overdone
but surely many of modern society's ills (e.g. violent crime, welfare
cheating) would seem to stem from a deficiency in such attributes.
It seems of
interest to note that similar reinterpretation exercises performed
with other sets of data available in the literature also yield improved
insights. Maier & Lavrakas (1984), for instance, found a relationship
between 'F' scale score and sex-typed body ideals. This suggests
that it is old-fashioned to idealize a muscular physique among males.
Since human muscle has been supplanted by machines in so many ways
since the Second World war, this finding would seem an expected
one. If muscle is less important, it should be less idealized. What
seems at first like an obscure finding about authoritarianism becomes
instead a readily understandable finding about what has become old-fashioned.
(1985) found that high 'F' scorers tended more than others to dislike
being shown pictures of masturbation. An elaborate interpretation
of this finding in terms of the psychodynamic processes described
by Adorno et al is, of course, possible but a much more straightforward
interpretation is that sexual prudery is old-fashioned. Given the
great liberalization of sexual attitudes since "the Pill",
this too fits in well with what is already known. Fisher et al (1988)
also report prudery among high F scorers. The finding by Larsen,
Reed & Hoffman (1980) to the effect that high F scorers (old-fashioned
people) dislike homosexuals is, of course, also similarly explained.
Homosexuals were once so disfavoured that homosexuality was almost
universally illegal. Now they are generally tolerated and may even
be accepted. So it is old-fashioned nowadays to decry homosexuality
-- which the Larsen, Reed & Hoffman data confirm.
One study with
the F scale that seems of considerable potential importance is one
by Mercer & Kohn (1980). These authors relate "authoritarianism"
to adolescent drug abuse. They find that young adolescents with
high F scores are less likely to take recreational drugs. As this
seems a clear instance of "authoritarianism" being highly
adaptive it must have been something of a bitter pill for anyone
accepting the Adorno et al (1950) view of authoritarianism as being
highly maladaptive. As it is, however, the finding simply shows
that it is a mainly modern phenomenon to make regular use of illicit
Since drug abuse
does appear to have spiralled in recent years, this is an eminently
understandable finding. We may however regret that it is now old-fashioned
to make no use of recreational drugs. Perhaps a final study that
should be reinterpreted here is one by Siegel & Mitchell (1979).
These authors did at least use a form of the F scale that was balanced
against acquiescent bias. These authors conducted a mock-jury study
in which the effect of juror authoritarianism (among other things)
on final verdict was examined.
include many complicated interactions so are not easy to summarize
and a further complication is that much that was true for males
was not true for females and vice versa but some effects can nonetheless
The facts of
the case presented to the jurors were that a drug pusher had been
caught "red-handed" by the police. The results showed
that males scoring high on the F scale were more certain of the
defendant's guilt than were high F females. Since it was hard in
the circumstances for certainty not to be high, this seems to mean
that the high F (but not low F) females were influenced by compassion
in their judgments. Old-fashioned women were more compassionate
than their men? It seems reasonable. It was further found that high
F scorers were more punitive to a person of low moral character
than to a person of generally high character. Low F scorers did
not differentiate in terms of character. This suggests that it is
modern to ignore morality and character. As this is an age where
all values are challenged that would seem to fit in with what we
know of modern times. It was also found that high F males rated
the defendant as less honest. This suggests that it is modern to
see drug-dealing as honest. Drugs certainly do seem to have much
more acceptance now than they once did so this makes good sense
of the findings.
One study that
needs only minor elaboration is the work of Duckitt (1983) in South
Africa. Duckitt found that authoritarian personality, social class
and various demographic variables were poor predictors of F scale
score but that being of an Afrikaner or English-speaking background
had a big effect. As the Afrikaners, with their strict Calvinistic
Protestantism, are a notably old-fashioned group in all sorts of
ways, their high F scores represent good confirmation for the present
It will be noted
that all the studies that have been reinterpreted above were published
in the ten-year period from 1979 to 1988. Others could have been
mentioned and there certainly is a host of earlier studies (e.g.
Garcia & Griffitt (1978) but it is hoped that enough has been
said to show how they too could be reinterpreted should the need
attitudes and the F scale
What about the
relationship between the 'F' scale and racial attitudes? Is that
now to be challenged too? Not at all. The prediction of expressed
racial attitudes provided by the 'F' scale is surely one of the
most frequently replicated findings in the whole of psychology (though
there have been odd exceptions e.g. McAbee & Cafferty, 1982).
Hardly a year goes by without it being rediscovered and those who
make the rediscovery tend to present it as important support for
the Adorno et al theory (e.g. Meloen et al, 1988). It is of course
nothing of the kind. It simply shows that it is now old-fashioned
to make public avowals of racial sentiment. Such avowals were common
and respectable before World War II but once the horror of Hitler's
genocide attempt became known, they rapidly became very un-respectable.
Nowadays, if you are going to support racist policies, it helps
to be living in the past.
If writers such
as Meloen et al (1988) believe that it is the pro-authority content
of the 'F' scale that enables its prediction of racial attitudes,
what do they make of the finding by Heaven (1983) to the effect
that a scale with equal numbers of pro-authority and anti-authority
items (scored so that assent to any item earned a high score) also
gave a highly significant prediction of racial attitudes? If it
is pro-authority content that predicts racial attitudes, should
not the scale's anti-authority items have cancelled that out and
caused the scale overall not to correlate with racial attitudes?
How, then, do we explain Heaven's finding? Why did he score his
pro-and anti-authority items the same anyway? He did so because
he was measuring acquiescent response bias according to a schema
that has often been advocated by the present writer (e.g. Ray, 1983b)
and which has recently been supported by Davison & Srichantra
(1988). Authors such as Meloen et al who use one-way worded versions
of the 'F' scale ignore a great deal of evidence (e.g. Roberts,
Forthofer & Fabrega, 1976; Ray & Pratt, 1979; Ray, 1983b
& 1985b; Vagt & Wendt, 1978; Peabody, 1966; Jackson, 1967;
Campbell, Siegman & Rees, 1967; Milbrath, 1962) to the effect
that acquiescence can be a seriously distorting influence and can
have correlates of its own. In Heaven's study the pro- and anti-authority
items, far from being responded to in opposite ways, were in fact
uncorrelated. The scale lacked meaningful internal consistency.
Scores on it,
therefore, simply measure acquiescence. Respondents got a high score
for "Yes", regardless of the meaning of the item. Heaven
showed, in other words, that scores on a scale of acquiescent bias
predict scores on a balanced scale of racial attitudes. Both old-fashionedness
and carelessness (if that is what underlies acquiescent bias) predict
racial attitudes. Not all the prediction of racial attitudes given
by the 'F' scale is the outcome of its one-way-worded form, however.
This is shown by the fact that successfully balanced forms of the
'F' scale (i.e. forms where the pro-authority and anti-authority
items do correlate significantly negatively and are scored oppositely)
also predict racial attitudes. The correlations with racial attitudes
shown by balanced scales are, however, much lower than those reported
by Adorno et al (Ray, 1980). In other words, the original 'F' scale
has a particularly high correlation with racial attitudes because
it taps two important sources of expressed racial attitudes -- carelessness
about what you say and an old-fashioned orientation. Controlling
out the carelessness does however still leave a good measure of
old-fashioned attributes and this too predicts racial attitudes
-- though not as strongly as a measure that adds in other predictors
It may also
be worth noting at this point that knowing predictors of avowed
racial dislikes may tell us nothing about the predictors of actual
racism or racist behavior (La Piere, 1934; Crosby, Bromley &
Saxe, 1980; Rule, Haley & McCormack, 1971). One study that may
reflect this is by Stephan & Rosenfield (1978). As we have seen,
"authoritarian" attitudes generally predict anti-black
Rosenfield (1978), however, found that schoolchildren who had been
subjected to "authoritarian" child-rearing practices tended
to show (r = .33. See Table 2) the greatest increases in inter-ethnic
contact after a desegregation program came into force. This is clearly
troubling. It is so contrary to expectation that even the authors
of the study seemed not to notice the sign of the correlation. When
I wrote to one of them about it, he acknowledged the anomaly but
could offer no explanation for it. We have however noticed some
tendency in the studies so far reviewed for old-fashioned people
to be "nicer" towards others in various ways. Could it
be that this "niceness" was a stronger determinant of
actions towards minorities than was the evaluative judgments held
concerning those minorities? Was old-fashioned courtesy more significant
than old-fashioned openness about racial judgments? In the absence
of other explanations, it seems worth considering.
that bears on the attitude/behaviour distinction is by Katz &
Benjamin (1960). These authors noted that very little had been done
to find out how high F scorers actually behaved towards blacks and
set out to remedy the deficit. They conducted a small group study
in which various tasks had to be carried out co-operatively. Each
group had two blacks and two whites and the whites were one high
and one low scorer on the F scale. It was found that the high F
whites (the "authoritarians") accepted black suggestions
more and that, presumably as a consequence, the blacks were more
assertive and more co-operative back. The high F whites also changed
their behaviour more than low scorers in order to accommodate situational
changes brought about by the experimenters. They were in a word,
more flexible. The negroes saw the low F scorers as less co-operative.
Katz & Benjamin made an attempt to explain away these results
but it is surely clear that the results are the exact reverse of
what the Adorno et al theory would predict. The results are, however,
very much in accord with the Stephan & Rosenfield (1978) results
mentioned above and can be explained in a similar way. Once again
we see evidence for the "niceness" of old-fashioned people.
As the thing that we most reliably know about high F scorers is
that they are more ready to avow racially negative attitudes this
work also highlights yet again the folly of inferring behaviour
from attitudes (Cf. La Piere, 1934; Crosby, Bromley & Saxe,
1980; Rule, Haley & McCormack, 1971).
orientation in the general population
so far discussed has shown the explanatory power of the new conceptualization
of what the 'F' scale measures but only the research by Heaven (1983)
was based on general population sampling. As is often the case in
psychology, students were the predominant source of the data analyzed.
This is not entirely satisfactory (Sears, 1982).
of the old-fashioned person that we derive from (say) Kline &
Cooper (1984) may not be accurate as a description of old-fashioned
people in the population at large. A general population survey that
used a successful balanced form of the 'F' scale will therefore
be described. The correlates of old-fashionedness will thus be studied
with no influence from acquiescent response bias present. The study
has previously been described in Study II, Ch. 43 of Ray (1974)
and Ray (1973b) -- where fuller details may be found. Briefly, however,
it was a random doorstep survey of the Australian city of Sydney.
N = 118. The Balanced 'F' (BF) scale showed that old-fashioned people
tended to be older (r = .218), in humbler occupations (-.304), were
equally likely to be male or female (.031), could have any level
of education (-.047), were equally likely to vote Leftist or Rightist
(.097), might or might not be alienated (-.020) and tended to accept
that aggression was inevitable in life (.254).
There were other
correlations with political conservatism (.519), social conservatism
(.717), moral conservatism (.580), attitude to authority (.539)
and Dogmatism (.617) but one must ask to what degree these might
be artifactual. Adorno et al used many items that express admiration
of authority in their scale so the correlation between the BF scale
and the AA (attitude to authority) scale is obviously artifactual.
Clearly, the BF scale must to some degree measure (at least verbal)
acceptance of some kinds of authority as well as old-fashioned orientation.
Interestingly, however, the AA scale does not predict racism (Ray,
1984) so the pro-authority aspect of the 'F' scale is not what leads
it to predict racism. This is, of course, the exact reverse of what
Adorno et al thought.
It should be
noted that the sort of attitude to authority measured by the 'F'
scale does not appear to have behavioral implications. Both the
original 'F' scale and the BF scale do not appear to predict any
sort of authoritarian behavior (Titus, 1968; Ray & Lovejoy,
1983). The attitude to authority component of what the 'F' scale
measures should not therefore be a serious confound when the scale
is being used to measure old-fashioned orientation.
In the light
of the fact that the BF scale does not predict general population
vote (a finding also common with the original form of the 'F' scale.
See Hanson, 1975), the correlations with the conservatism scales
also begin to look suspect. Is being old-fashioned necessarily to
be conservative? Certainly in one respect it is not. The BF scale
correlated only .102 (N.S.) with the scale of economic conservatism.
Lipset (1959 & 1960) has, however, claimed that conservatism
on economic questions (redistribution of the wealth etc.) is differently
determined from conservatism in other areas so this might not be
an important exception. See also Felling & Peters (1986) and
Himmelweit, Humphreys, Jaeger & Katz (1981 pp. 138/9). It has
been shown (Ray, 1973a) that acceptance of conventional authority
has always been an important part of conservative ideology so perhaps
any scale that measures acceptance of authority is also thereby
measuring acceptance of conservative philosophy. Certainly, the
AA scale also correlated highly with the conservatism scales. Would
a scale of old-fashioned outlook that did not include pro-authority
items also predict conservatism of ideology? Only further research
of the correlation between the BF and BD (balanced Dogmatism) scale
are also not as clear as they might at first seem. What the Rokeach
(1960) Dogmatism scale measures (if anything) is very much open
to question (Ray, 1979) but perhaps it too might be substantially
old-fashioned to modern ears.
That there may
be a variety of scales that to different degrees express an old-fashioned
orientation is perhaps also suggested by a study in which Ray (1985c)
looked at the demographic correlates of a variety of measures of
conservatism and related concepts. Some of these measures correlated
little with age of the respondent and some correlated strongly.
The scale that showed the strongest correlation (.51) with age was
derived primarily from the Eysenck (1954) 'R' scale and the Lentz
et al (1935) C-R scale. The composition of both scales was influenced
by pre-World War II issues so this is not inherently surprising.
It does however help to explain findings such as De Man's (1985).
De Man found that high scorers on the Eysenck 'R' scale ("conservatives")
perceived their parents as less permissive and more controlling.
In other words, permissiveness is modern. Once again a finding of
some apparent theoretical interest turns out to be in fact much
to the present account
As was mentioned
at the outset of this paper, the idea that the F scale measures
an old-fashioned outlook rather than authoritarianism has previously
been mentioned in passing in the literature even if it has not been
given the thorough examination attempted here. For this reason,
there is already one objection to the idea in print. This is in
the form of a short paper by Kelley (1989) responding to my critique
(see also above) of an earlier paper by her (Kelley, 1985). If the
strength of a theory can be gauged by the weakness of the objections
to it, however, the present theory must be a very strong one. Kelley
touches on a number of areas wherein she believes that the data
supports the F scale as measuring authoritarianism but does so in
a very selective manner. Other studies in the areas she explores
that conflict with her conception of what the F scale measures are
simply ignored. It would seem that the many authors who have questioned
the validity of the F scale (e.g. Christie & Jahoda, 1954; McKinney,
1973; Altemeyer, 1981) wrote in vain as far as Kelley is concerned.
she mentions that some high F scorers have been found to prefer
conservative political candidates and that some neo-Nazis and John
Birchers have been found to have high F scores but she ignores the
fact mentioned above to the effect that many people in the general
population have high F scores and that even people who vote for
Leftist candidates often have high F scores (Hanson, 1975; Ray,
1973, 1983c and 1984). Old-fashioned people in the general population
(and even to some extent among students) simply have a variety of
political orientations. They are certainly not all Rightists and,
in at least some general population samples, they are not even predominantly
Rightists. Furthermore, even if high F scale scorers in the general
population were predominantly Rightist voters, that would hardly
suffice as a demonstration that the F scale measured authoritarianism.
One would have
thought that no-one now would need to have pointed out to them that
both Leftists and Rightists on the world scene can be either authoritarian
or non-authoritarian. It apparently suits Kelley's politics to see
a vote for Lyndon Baines Johnson as pro-authoritarian but the fact
of the matter is that President Johnson was the popular and democratically
elected leader of one of the world's most democratic countries who
relinquished power at a constitutionally proper time. An admiration
of Mao, Castro or the pre-Gorbachev Soviet system, on the other
hand would be rather more clearly pro-authoritarian.
goes on to point out that in her earlier study (Kelley, 1985) high
F scorers were not particularly prudish in responding to erotica
except that they showed a greater dislike of being shown pictures
of "same-sex masturbation" than did low scorers. Kelley
fairly reasonably explains the general lack of prudishness in this
area on the part of high F scorers by proposing that erotica and
masturbation are as old as the hills and that the culture of the
past also therefore featured them. What she fails to explain, however,
is the one exception she found. She fails to explain that her high
F scorers were more prudish in responding to pictures of "same-sex
masturbation". Finding an explanation for it in terms of the
present theory, however, is not at all difficult. One simply has
to associate "same-sex masturbation" with homosexuality
to make the connection. As has already been mentioned, homosexuality
has only recently gained some degree of social acceptability so
anything associated with it in people's minds should be disliked
by old-fashioned people. Kelley's work does nothing, therefore,
to upset the present account of what the F scale measures.
A great deal
of data has been surveyed and the inevitable complexities have arisen
but throughout it all, it has been obvious that a view of the 'F'
scale as primarily a measure of old-fashioned orientation has considerable
explanatory force. It may be, of course, that having an "old-fashioned
orientation" is not the most ultimately accurate way of characterizing
high F scale scorers. That they could also fairly reasonably be
characterized by related descriptions such as "cultural traditionalists"
or "cultural conservatives" is admitted. "Old fashioned"
would, however seem to be a simpler characterization so is perhaps
to be preferred under the principle of parsimony. The many correlates
of the scale also suggest that this orientation is an important
one for study. There must be a great range in the degree to which
and the rate at which people absorb what is new so the variable
may be one of the more important for understanding individuals.
Now that it is clear that we have at least one measure of it, there
will hopefully be much future research in the field.
should however take care to use only balanced forms of the 'F' scale
(e.g. Ray, 1972). Most of the existing literature is based on one-way
worded versions of the scale and is, as such, generally unrewarding
to attempt to interpret. Any given correlation could be due either
to the old-fashioned character of the items or to their direction
of wording. Research of such uncertain implication hardly seems
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