Authoritarian Personality

Go ahead and take this online version of Adorno’s infamous Authoritarian Personality test. Now largely discredited, Adorno claimed that his F-Scale correlated with potentially fascist personalities, racial prejudice and right-wing politics. My score was quite low—only 4.3! Clearly the test is flawed!
Posted by at November 01, 2002 02:35 PM | Send

I got a 3.1. I figured it would be higher.

Posted by: John on November 2, 2002 11:09 AM

I scored a pathetic 3.5. But then, the test was developed a half-century ago. Perhaps it was a lot harder to seem authoritarian in the far healthier society of 1950. Much easier today.


Posted by: Wm. Wleklinski on November 2, 2002 11:28 AM

I came in at 2.733…, which prompted the test to tell me that I was a liberal airhead.

I think I got marked down for reading the questions literally and saying that I “disagreed strongly” with statements that as written seemed hard to defend. Don’t literalmindedness and logical absolutism make you more of a fascist authoritarian though?

Posted by: Jim Kalb on November 2, 2002 11:28 AM

I got a 3.6, although I was a bit forgiving with the questions. I didn’t take them quite as literally as Mr. Kalb.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on November 2, 2002 10:14 PM

I ended up with a 3.9, but I also very much attempted to answer the “spirit” of the questions. This test is worse than average in attempting to get a numeric answer without properly constructing and qualifying the scale upon which it is given. In fact I think the test itself is a whining rotter, less than 2, since it makes you commit to reading and responding uncritically in order to get to an authoritarian score. It implies that being uncritical is a necessary component of being authoritarian. We ought to find out who wrote it and hang ‘em.

Posted by: Matt on November 2, 2002 10:53 PM

Aw, shucks! I only scored 3.8. I’ve even got a few black shirts I was wanting to remove the lint from. Guess I’ll have to put them in mothballs…

Posted by: Carl on November 3, 2002 2:44 AM

I got “2.833…” on the moronic thing. “You are a liberal airhead,” it told me.

“Liberal?” Uhhhhh ….. No. NOT as that word is currently understood, at any rate. But in another sense of that word, its true sense, doubtless all the fans of this Blog-site forum are liberals. I recently said in the Readers’ Forum of, “I am more liberal and more progressive than any Leftist who breathes.” And I believe so are all the regular posters here at VFR. In that comment in I also said, only half tongue-in-cheek, that the distinction I find most useful and meaningful, rather than conservative/liberal, is normal/degenerate. I don’t feel “conservative,” but simply normal. The problem with the other side isn’t that they are “liberal,” but that they are degenerate or champion degenerateness over normalness at every opportunity. But that’s a whole other topic. As for what “fascist” means as currently thrown around gratuitously by the Left, that cannot be determined. They have made it so that the word has no meaning except as a purely historical term referring to Benito Mussolini’s political party from the 1920s or whatever it was, until his overthrow two decades later. But if one can get near to understanding what that term is SUPPOSED to mean in today’s world, then the ones most resembling it, of course, are today’s Left/liberals.

“Airhead,” yes without a doubt — for taking the damn thing in the first place.

Posted by: Unadorned on November 3, 2002 9:29 AM

Unadorned is writing in a light-hearted way. Nevertheless, I doubt very much that all the regular visitors to VFR are liberal in “its true sense”. Wholly aside from the differences between today’s liberals and the classical liberals of the 18th and 19th centuries, I suspect many of us have more sympathy for Charles than the Parliament in Britain of the 1640s, more sympathy for the French monarchy than what replaced it after 1789. A lot of us are closer to Joseph de Maistre than J.S. Mill. On the other hand, we needn’t delude ourselves that the world represented by these earlier regimes will ever be restored.


Posted by: Wm. Wleklinski on November 3, 2002 10:30 AM

“I suspect many of [the regular visitors to VFR] have more sympathy for Charles than the Parliament in Britain of the 1640s, more sympathy for the French monarchy than what replaced it after 1789. A lot of us are closer to Joseph de Maistre than J.S. Mill. On the other hand, we needn’t delude ourselves that the world represented by these earlier regimes will ever be restored.”

William Wleklinski, I enjoyed your post until the very last line, which set my teeth on edge. I think you’ll agree that having more sympathy for the extremely unpleasant ancien régime in France than for The Terror of Robespierre and the el-sicko extreme-left radicalism of the Jacobins does not mean one wishes for the ancien régime’s restoration, any more than having more sympathy for Leon Trotsky than for Josef Stalin means one wishes the former would make a come-back.

Despite the differences that divide us, the people who come to VFR to slake their thirst for truth are bound together by something.

Bound together by what?

Posted by: Unadorned on November 3, 2002 1:34 PM

I could stomach only 7 questions and scored a 4. I must be an undisciplined anarchist. Darn, I wish I could stomach only vegetables so I could again fit into the black knit-shirt my brother gave me last Christmas.

Posted by: P Murgos on November 3, 2002 3:00 PM

In answer to Unadorned’s question: one answer is rejection of liberalism. For some or even most it is only a partial rejection. For others it is not merely negative rejection but also a positive embrace of traditionalism-in-the-abstract as an alternative. For most there is the (at least partial) embrace of a given man’s own particular tradition as something worthy of preservation and restoration.

There are plenty of things for us to fight about amongst ourselves, though. If my particular tradition embodies truth and comes into conflict with yours, you’d best stand down because I am right and you are wrong :). Some see the situation as so disastrously liberal that particularism wherever it is found should be defended, or at least given the benefit of the doubt. Others see certain particular traditions (e.g. Islam) as intrinsically evil and ultimately destined for the same eternal fire as liberalism.

So in terms of what unites participants here, one important part of it seems to be an inability to engage in at least some aspects of liberal self-deception combined with some respect for tradition rather than preemptive suspicion of it. Left to ourselves we might well shoot each other, but if any sort of liberal enters the room all weapons will be pointed in the same direction.

If someone wants to start talking about how Our Perspective is the One True Liberalism that Has Been Coopted By Those Lefties[tm] there are probably better places to hang out. Lots of us around here tend to chamber a round when we hear that sort of thing.

Posted by: Matt on November 3, 2002 3:42 PM

Why would conservatives score highly for authoritarianism anyway?

It’s true that conservatives don’t reject “unchosen” forms of authority as liberals tend to do.

For instance, a conservative might judge that a father has wielded his paternal authority wisely or unwisely, but is unlikely to reject paternal authority altogether as something that limits the autonomy of the individual.

But though conservatives are more accepting of such forms of authority, the conservative instinct is hardly to turn to a dictator to solve social problems.

Even the conservative monarchists of the past were rarely absolutists. They tended to be legitimists, requiring that the monarch be the legitimate heir to the throne. They usually also supported the established rule of law, which monarchs typically swore to uphold as part of their duties. They were also strong supporters of the church, and therefore had loyaltes beyond the monarchy.

Posted by: Mark Richardson on November 3, 2002 6:39 PM

Mark Richardson makes a good point. What the Left does is ask what it would be for *them*, with the metaphysical blinkers that make it impossible to imagine any moral reality outside particular human desire and impulse, to accept unchosen authority. The only basis they can conceive for such a view is that some wills should simply be subjected to others—that some people are intrinsically worthless or evil and should be enslaved. And that, fundamentally, is the view Leftists attribute to conservatives.

Posted by: Jim Kalb on November 4, 2002 7:52 AM

re. Why would conservatives score highly for authoritarianism anyway?

The inherent NEED for control and to control within the conservative persona. They feel insecure in an uncertain universe. Right wingers crave order and simplicity, and will impose these things where they are not and should never be. Thanks to Buckley, Reagan, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, most so-called “conservatives” are really nothing of the kind. Right wingers are theocrats and pseudo-libertarian Social Darwinists or even fascists who embrace authority and power over the individual.

Right wingers’ reverence for authority makes them believe whatever their superiors tell them to believe. Their fear and insecurity make them shun the unknown and prevents them from questioning tradition or thinking in new ways. Which is why right wingers demand that everyone think whatever they ‘mimic’ from their leaders in cult like ‘mass movement’ rhetoric. They listen and obey. Free thinking threatens right wingers. It weakens their precarious hold on their make-believe world.

Most importantly, Fasscism is one of the primary elements of authoritarian right wing regimes, regardless if within a communist regime or not. This is commonly understand EXCEPT by conservatives of course that misunderstand what fascism is in protecting their internally insecure, externally directed and eternally incomplete selves from ‘surrendering the unwanted self’ to imaginary gods and/or Messiah Mascots like the Dubya…

I scored 2.4 or something as the ‘alledged’ airhead on a liberal;-) The creator of the ‘scale’ had ACTUAL answers classified so that they placed individuals on scoring scales of A-S (anti-Semitism E (ethnocentrism), PEC (political-economic conservatism) and F (potentially fascist). In other words, the higher your score, the more ‘ethnocentric’ and right wing authoritarian you might be (authoritarian submissive or aggressive). It was used to analyze racial prejudice more then anything…

Posted by: Justin Sane on May 11, 2003 10:00 PM

I scored a 4.4 on this test. Clearly I am a fascist! The odd thing about all these tests is they assume three things. 1. That stereotypes are always false when in actuality a stereotype could be true, empirical study is needed to confirm/disconfirm provided a stereotype is even phrased in a manner that would lend itself to confirmation/falsification. 2. That “conventional” morality is the result of submission to unjust authority, rather than being the outgrowth of biological and natural constraints upon the human animal. And, 3. That “mystical” explanations for world events are “irrational”. Since this test was devised by Marxist materialists they probably had a bias against philosophical worldviews which incorporate transcendental non-material elements. I find this ironic because in my view Fascism (by which I mean actual historical fascism like the Third Reich or Mussolini’s Italy and not what a leftist means by this term which is something that “oppresses” them)was actually brought about by excessive “rationalism”. The fascist state is a huge bureaucracy run along scientistic lines. Also, to explain the results of this test they used a lot of Freudian theorizing. The scientific merit of Freudian analysis is highly dubious to say the least.

Posted by: zosimos on October 27, 2004 6:18 PM
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