Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Clifton Oyamot


Authoritarian, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Left Wing Authoritarian, RWA

Subject Areas

Psychology; Political Science


Attempting to explain the Holocaust, Adorno Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford (1950) developed a theory of the authoritarian personality, looking at people who follow strong leaders and adhere to tradition. Altemeyer (1996) conceptualized authoritarianism as Authoritarian Submission (submission to authority), Authoritarian Aggression (aggression on behalf of an authority), and Conventionalism (adherence to tradition). However, his Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale is ideologically biased and is unable to separate the different aspects of authoritarianism. The present study improved upon RWA by creating the Pure Authoritarianism (PA) scale.

The present study developed PA as a measure of authoritarianism with each aspect of authoritarianism as a separate subscale and, with it, looked at the relationship between authoritarianism and ideology. PA and its subscales are each best described by a single factor, and each are internally reliable. Regression analyses of PA with RWA and ideology, respectively, supported convergent and discriminant validity. These analyses showed Conventionalism to be strongly related to conservatism. Other aspects of authoritarianism were found to be unrelated to ideology. Regression analyses examined the relationship between authoritarianism and ideology by comparing PA to issue questions. With refinement, PA's subscales could be used to better understand authoritarianism and possibly prevent future tragedies that arise out of it.