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The Open and Closed Mind

The final critic of the Adorno Authoritarian Study to be considered is Dr. Milton Rokeach of Michigan State. Dr. Rokeach criticized the authoritarian personality Studies first of all for its lack of consideration of general mental rigidity and in­ flexibility of mind, which Rokeach considers to· be a very important element of the Authoritarian construct. Secondly, like Edward Shils, he states that both the Ethnocentrism Scale and the Fascistic Scale measure only right-winged authoritarianism and neglected the authoritarianism on the left.

Additionally, Rokeach felt that there was an element which encompassed authoritarianism (as measured on the F scale) and intolerance (as measured on the E scale). This element would also encompass something that was not measured by the California study group—this is the presence of a closed cognitive systems. He called this element Dogmatism and constructed a D (Dogmatism) Scale which was free of particular ideological constructs Hence, the D Scale served to test both left and right authoritarianism. It took the place of both the E and F scale.

Cognitive Rigidity

Rokeach (1954, 1956) went beyond the study of dogmatism. He introduced the notion of cognitive rigidity and differentiated between rigidity and dogmatism. According to Rokeach, dogmatism refers to the total cognitive organizations of ideas and beliefs into relatively closed ideological systems. By contrast, rigidity refers to a intrapsychic boundary which prevents communication between neighboring regions, or to the way a person or animal attacks, solves, or learns specific tasks and problems. Dogmatism is considered, a higher-order and a more complexly organized form of resistance to change. While dogmatism may well lead to rigidity, the converse is not necessarily the ease. Rokeach uses as an example the feeble-minded rat which may be considered rigid but hardly may be considered dogmatic.

Rokeach offers another important distinction between rigidity and dogmatism. When one is rigid, everything in their world is treated as an object—leading the rigid person to form a distant “I-It’ relationships with virtually everything in their world. By contrast, dogmatism is manifest almost solely in those situations which involve interpersonal relationships and communication. Put simply, rigidity tends to refer to the problem­ solving situation, dogmatism to the inter-human communicative situation. Finally, dogmatism applies to the broader scope of authoritarianism and intolerance and incorporated these concepts within its rubric. Rigidity can only be considered as an entity which is closely associated with authoritarianism yet is never a part of it.

Rokeach provides more precision. He defines rigidity as “the inability to restructure a field in which there are alternative solutions to a problem in order to solve that problem more efficiently.” This rather operational definition evolves from observation of the Einstellung phenomenon as produced by Luchin’s Water Jar Problems and other similar tests (Denny Doodlebug Test, Binet’s Progressive Line Study, etc.). In the Luchin test, the subject is given a series of problems to solve which involve three jars, holding three different quantities of water. The subject is required to measure out a certain amount of water using only these three jars.

The first problems can be solved in only one rather complex manner. The remaining problems, however, can be solved in not only this complex manner but also in an easier, quicker manner. Luchin and other subsequent experimenters have found that many of the subjects continued to solve the problem in the complex manner, overlooking the manner by which they could solve the problem with greater facility. Rokeach proposed that those subjects who did not change the procedure they used illustrated his definition of rigidity. Rokeach went on to note that rigidity is an aspect of authoritarianism and should correlate with ethnocentrism. The results he obtained indicated that the ethnocentric individual did tend to rigidly continue to use the more complicated method when completing the Luchin test. Rokeach, 1954)

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