Analysis of An Authoritarian Personality Essay

Analysis of An Authoritarian Personality Essay

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In a seminal work, Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford (1950) coined the term authoritarian personality and stated that it was characterised by strong adherence to externally imposed conventional norms, as well as submission or obedience to the authorities that promote those norms. According to Adorno and colleagues, these behaviours are attempts to deal with various personal insecurities. Specifically, authoritar- ian individuals displace their own anxieties onto weak minority groups in their culture (e.g., ethnic and/or religious minorities) or onto people who deviate from social norms (e.g., homosexuals). Displacement is often accompanied by associated beliefs that are highly evaluative and rigid. Other characteristics of the authoritarian personality include a cynical view of mankind, cognitive and emotional inflexibility. A belief in the need for power and toughness, the tendency to act harshly towards nonconformists, opposition to subjective or imaginative tendencies, and an exaggerated concern with promiscuity. Adler (1965) re-examined the personality char- acteristics described by Adorno and colleagues and noted that the central trait of the authoritarian personality is the ‘‘will to power over others’’, which results in aggressive overcompensation for feelings of inferiority and insignificance. Contemporary research continues to rely on many of the conceptualisations and measures originated by Adorno and colleagues (Martin, 2001; Stone, Lederer, & Christie, 1993).
Altemeyer (1988, 1996, 1998) replicated Adorno et al.’s (1950) study and examined whether the components of authoritarianism correlated with right- wing political views. Although not all of the components of authoritarianism correlated significantly...


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...as generally less cognitively flexible than inconsistent-handers (Sontam & Christman, 2012). This characterisation is based on several specific findings that converge on a similar idea. Like authoritarians, consistent right-handers, exhibited less attitude change in response to a persuasive message than did inconsistent left- or right-handers (Christman, Henning, Geers, Propper, & Niebauer, 2008), and they were also more rigid in their perception of ambiguous figures (Christman, Sontam, & Jasper, 2009) and poorer at counterfactual thinking (Jasper, Barry, & Christman, 2008); in these three studies there were few, if any, consistent left-handers in the samples and they were excluded from statistical analyses. Finally consistency, regardless of left or right direction, was positively correlated with tendency to fixate (or ruminate) on current worries (Niebauer, 2004).

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