Authoritarian personality (Milgram and Elms, Adorno)

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  • Authoritarian personality (Dispositional explanation for obedience)
    • Adorno argues personality factors are more important than situational factors in explaining obedience
      • Adorno et al (1950) developed a questionnaire called the California F scale to measure levels of authoritarian personality
    • Milgram and Elms conducted a follow up study using participants from the original study to see whether dis/obedient participants were more likely to be authoritarian personality
      • 20 obedient = went to 450V and 20 disobedient = refused to continue. Each was asked to complete several personality questionnaires, then asked about their relationship with parents, researcher and learner.
        • Obedient participants scored higher on the F scale, in comparison to disobedient participants
      • Concluded the obedient participants in his original research displayed higher levels of the authoritarian personality
    • Evaluation
      • Milgram and Elms' results are correctional and it is therefore difficult to draw meaningful conclusions about the exact cause of the obedience
      • Middendorp and Meleon (1990) found that less-educated people are more likely to display authoritarian personality characteristics, than well-educated people (Levels of education)
      • The F scale is used to determine levels of authoritarian personality, it suffers from response bias or social desirability, participants provide answers that are socially acceptable.
        • Classified as authoritarian when they might not be


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