The important questions to be answered after these scales were established and found to be interrelated were: How did these attitudes arise and why do some individuals from the same social, economic, political, and religious background as the equalitarian become authoritarian and prejudiced? Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson, and Sanford attempted to deal with these inquiries. They selected two extreme groups on the basis of the various scales they developed and studied these individuals in great detail, making use of clinical interviews. The investigators upon com piling the data concluded that a fundamental difference between these extreme groups lay in the process or awareness-repression.
The highly prejudiced individual is generally less adept at acknowledging the presence in himself of impulses and tendencies which he personally feels are unacceptable. The low prejudiced group on the other hand could recognize the existence of this dichotomous situation and refused, consciously or unconsciously, to repress the disturbing state. The tendencies which the former strive to keep out of awareness are mainly fear, weakness, passivity, sexual impulses, and aggressive felling’s against authoritative figures, especially the parents. The need not to confront these facts about the $8lf produces in the extreme high group a rejection of self-examination and a restriction of psychological imagination about the self and others.
The individual becomes authoritarian, according to the autn6rs, as a result of the experiences of childhood. The high scoring (authoritarian) individual tended to come from a strict, restrictive environment. He experienced harsh, threatening discipline, at home; was forced to form an idealistic, non-objective, conception of his parents; was told that sex is immoral and exploitive, that power is the essential factor of esteem and influence; and was a member of a fixed, rigid family status structure based upon age and gender. To borrow some of Fromm’s concepts, the authoritarian, in his youth, was in a situation in which he could not develop the self-esteem nor self-love needed for a productive, creative life. In order for one to love and show empathy for another he must first gain an esteem and love for himself; only then can he direct himself to an external object.
The individual who does not respect himself, as a result of the harsh, non-supportive environment de scribed above, becomes alienated from himself and soon sets up goals which were once means to the goals of happiness and productivity. For example, the alienated. or authoritarian individual will not consider the acquisition of property a. means to an end, happiness or productivity, and subordinate property to such an end, but will consider the acquisition of property an end in itself.
The alienated individual will also be unable to develop an “I-Thou” relationship with other individuals but will instead treat them as objects ta be used as a means to an end, i.e. will develop an “I-it’ relationship with other people; hence, the formation of ideologies which use other individuals as scapegoats or “psychological cushions.” While this description regarding the genes of authoritarianism is all too brief, it should suffice as a basis upon which the particular causes of each individual case of authoritarianism can be founded•
What did Adorno and associates accomplish in their extensive research and theorization? Did this study succeed in describing the content and genesis of certain important attitudes and the relationship between these attitudes? In many respects: the Adorno studies did accomplish a great deal. While Sartre, Fromm, and Hoffer all wrote interesting and apparently insightful descriptions of the prejudiced, fanatic individual, they did not base such descriptions upon empirical, experimentally controlled data. The Adorno group was the first to employ the effective statistical and public opinion tools developed by such psychometricians as Likert and Thurstone.