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Sampling Biases

First, many critics claimed that the methodology of the California Study was faulty in that the authors paid little attention to sampling iaws; hence their findings can be questioned as applicable only to the particular sample which they tested {Simpson & Yinger, 1958, p. 96). Christie, and Garcia (1951) pointed out that the California Public Opinion Study was based primarily upon data collected from the residents of California, hence was of only limited generality. In California during this period of time a broad spectrum of attitudes were overtly expressed so that an individual in such an environment was exposed to a great variety of ideologies regarding groups. Therefore, people could choose those ideologies, either consciously or unconsciously, which were compatible with their psychological need for outlets for aggressive impulses.

In such an environment, the greater the authoritarianism, the greater the acceptance of ethnocentrism. However, would this relationship hold in a subculture which is marked by a relative homogeneous, legally sanctioned ideology regarding minority groups? Under such conditions the ideological range of group influence would be limited, hence affording less of an option for individual choice. Christie and Garcia compared such a sub-culture (a Oklahoma city in which there was at the time legalized discrimination against Negroes and strong non-legal prejudice against other minority groups such as Jews) with the California group. They found a significantly higher acceptance of items on both the E and F scale by the Oklahoma group, thus indicating greater prejudice toward minority groups and greater acceptance of authoritarian ideology.

Christie and Garcia (1951, p. 469) concluded that the

paucity of ideological stimulation is believed largely responsible for the higher scores manifested on the F scale by the Southwest City students, and they doubted whether early child rearing practices per se could be invoked as the relevant variable.

We may, therefore, criticize the California study for not taking these factors into consideration.

Methodological Limitations and Demographics Not Considered

A second major criticism concerning methodology was tendered. Can the memories of childhood, which the California group obtained from the interviewees, be considered necessarily accurate records of past events? Additionally, such variables as education, group membership, sex, and intelligence can make a difference. They were not being controlled on the California studies. These variables might have served as critical factors (Simpson &c Yinger, 1958, p. 96).

The final factor to be considered is the general inadequacy of questionnaires. As Kelly, Ferson, and Holtzman (1958, p. 315) have pointed out:

The Questionnaire approach involves recall and discussion of social interaction, both of which are subject to unconscious or deliberate distortion to maintain self-consistency.

If the experimenter is to obtain an accurate, undistorted statement of an individual1s attitude, he must disguise his questions in such a way as to make them appear unrelated to this attitude. That is the person doing the interview cannot inquire about the individual’s attitude directly but must ask questions which indirectly indicate the attitude.

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