The Authoritarian Personality Essay Plan (A03)

  • Created by: fran2
  • Created on: 01-02-18 10:36

The Authoritarian Personality Essay Plan (A03)

  • Research support- Weakness

Milgram and Elms conducted interviews with a small sample of participants who scored highly on the F-scale. They found that there was merely a correlation between obedience and the authoritarian personality. Hyman and Sheatsley suggest that obedience and authoritarian personality may not be directly linked with eachother at all, and may be due to other factors such as a lower level of education

  • Limited explanation- Weakness

The explanation finds it hard to explain obedient behaviour in terms of the majority of a country's population. E.g. in pre-war Germany, millions of individuals displayed obedient, racist and anti-Semitic behaviour, despite the fact that their personalities must have differed in all sorts of ways. This is a limitation as it shows that an alternative explanation is much more realistic and that social identity explains obedience

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The Authoritarian Personality Essay Plan (A03)

  • Correlation, not causation- Weakness

Adorno found many significant correlations between variables in his research. However, no matter how strong a correlation is, it does not necessarily mean that one causes the other. Therefore, he cannot claim that a harsh parenting style can cause an authoritarian personality 

  • Political bias- Weakness

The F-scale measures the tendency towards an extreme form of right-wing ideology. Christie and Jahoda argued that this is a politically biased interpretation of authoritarian personality. Extreme right-wing and left-wing ideologies actually have lots in common as they both emphasise the important of complete obedience to legitimate political authority. Therefore, Adorno's theory is not a comprehensive dispositional explanation that can account for obedience to authority across the whole political spectrum

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The Authoritarian Personality Essay Plan (A03)

  • Methodological problems- Weakness

Greenstein describes the F-scale as 'a comedy of methodological errors'. E.g. every single item in the scale is worded in the same 'direction'. Therefore, people who agree with the F-scale are therefore merely 'acquiescers'. Furthermore, Adorno interviewed the participants about their childhood experiences, but the researchers already knew the participants' test scores so they knew which of them had authoritarian personalities. They also knew the hypothesis of the study

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