authoritarian personality


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authoritarian personality

a person who prefers or believes in a system in which some individuals control while others are controlled. This, therefore, involves dominance and submission, and may be regarded as the obverse of a democratic preference.

The term authoritarian personality was introduced by ADORNO et al. (1950). After studying ANTI-SEMITISM, Adorno extended his interest to the negative attitudes to ‘outgroups’ displayed by ‘ingroup’ members. He found that these negative attitudes were only part of a cluster of related attitudes which could be seen in political, religious and social behaviour, and also within the family setting. Thus, the whole PERSONALITY is authoritarian: authoritarianism is not only expressed under certain eliciting conditions, it is a way of behaving which is a persistent personality characteristic.

Various theories exist as to the conditions which encourage the formation of an authoritarian personality, these being closely associated with the formation of PREJUDICE. In particular, having experienced authoritarian treatment, or the frustration of self-expression, seem to be conditioning factors. See also FRUSTRATION-AGGRESSION HYPOTHESIS, ETHNOCENTRISM.