Authoritarianism Scales And Response Bias

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Psychological Bulletin


Scales of authoritarianism differ from other self-report measures like the MMPI in ways that make them particularly susceptible to agreement response bias: (1) depending particularly on item content in relation to a theoretical syndrome; (2) using ambiguous items; (3) scoring all items in 1 direction. Fittingly, evidence now indicates that response bias is a major factor on authoritarian scales and not on the MMPI. This evidence can be maintained against the counterproposals of Rokeach and Samelson. Support is reiterated for interpreting (1) response bias not mechanically but as a response tendency when the S is uncertain; (2) high authoritarianism scale scores as representing simple-mindedness more than authoritarian ideologies. The latter interpretation is supported not only for college students but even more from survey data for the general population.

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