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Are You a Right Wing Authoritarian? July 18, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in psychology, social.

Is your personality that of a right wing authoritarian? While doing research for this blog, I’ve come upon many psychology studies, not just genetic or neurobiology studies. After all, there are some big issues in the LGBT community. Discrimination, homophobia, bullying, hate crimes. Why do people feel this way? What is it based on? Expect to see more blogs on this topic as, quite frankly, I’ve got a stack of scientific papers to read.

I want to share with you something that was new for me. A concept that has been around in the field of psychology for many years. Right wing authoritarianism, first introduced in 1981 by Canadian psychologist, Dr. Robert Altemeyer. Dr. Altemeyer studied authoritative personalities, leaders and follower and discovered three attitudes and behaviors that correlate highly with this personality type. Please note that Dr. Altemeyer did not have politics or religion in mind. Right was a play on words. He meant people who believe in written authority. As in “write”.  (Well, at least that’s what he said……).

Taken from Wikipedia:

  1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
  2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
  3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

One’s RWA can be measured using a test developed by Dr. Altemeyer. I found the actual test through Wikipedia.

Soon, I will summarize some of the research that uses the RWA test as part of the study. For now, grab a pencil and, well, a calculator. What’s your score? Let me know.

If you want to take it, it might be best to print out the scoring instructions. I’m not clever enough to know how to program a blog to do this for you. (I’m a molecular biologist, not a computer programmer. That sounded very Star Trek, didn’t it?)

This survey is part of an investigation of general public opinion concerning a variety of social issues.

You will probably find that you agree with some of the statements, and disagree with others, to varying

extents. Please indicate your reaction to each statement on the line to the left of each item according

to the following scale:

  • -4  very strongly disagree
  • -3 if you strongly disagree
  • -2 if you moderately disagree
  • -1 if you slightly disagree
  • +1 if you slightly agree
  • +2 if you moderately agree
  • +3 if you strongly agree
  • +4 if you very strongly agree
  • If you feel exactly and precisely neutral about an item, write down a “0.”

“Dr. Bob” to reader: We’ll probably stay friends longer if you read this paragraph. Important: You

may find that you sometimes have different reactions to different parts of a statement. For example,

you might very strongly disagree (“-4″) with one idea in a statement, but slightly agree (“+1″) with

another idea in the same item. When this happens, please combine your reactions, and write down how

you feel on balance (a “-3″ in this case).

Got your pencil? Let’s go.

___ 1. The established authorities generally turn out to be right about things, while the radicals

and protestors are usually just “loud mouths” showing off their ignorance.

___ 2. Women should have to promise to obey their husbands when they get married.

___ 3. Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy

the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.

___ 4. Gays and lesbians are just as healthy and moral as anybody else.

___ 5. It is always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and

religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create

doubt in people’s minds

___ 6. Atheists and others who have rebelled against the established religions are no doubt every

bit as good and virtuous as those who attend church regularly.

___ 7. The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional

values, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas.

___ 8. There is absolutely nothing wrong with nudist camps.

___ 9. Our country needs free thinkers who have the courage to defy traditional ways, even if this

upsets many people.

___ 10. Our country will be destroyed someday if we do not smash the perversions eating away at

our moral fiber and traditional beliefs.

___ 11. Everyone should have their own lifestyle, religious beliefs, and sexual preferences, even if

it makes them different from everyone else.

___ 12. The “old-fashioned ways” and the “old-fashioned values” still show the best way to live.

___ 13. You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting

for women’s abortion rights, for animal rights, or to abolish school prayer.

___ 14. What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil, and take

us back to our true path.

___ 15. Some of the best people in our country are those who are challenging our government,

criticizing religion, and ignoring the “normal way things are supposed to be done.”

___ 16. God’s laws about abortion, pornography and marriage must be strictly followed before it is

too late, and those who break them must be strongly punished.

___ 17. There are many radical, immoral people in our country today, who are trying to ruin it for

their own godless purposes, whom the authorities should put out of action.

___ 18. A “woman’s place” should be wherever she wants to be. The days when women are

submissive to their husbands and social conventions belong strictly in the past.

___ 19. Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our forefathers, do what the authorities

tell us to do, and get rid of the “rotten apples” who are ruining everything.

___ 20. There is no “ONE right way” to live life; everybody has to create their own way.

___ 21. Homosexuals and feminists should be praised for being brave enough to defy “traditional

family values.

___ 22. This country would work a lot better if certain groups of troublemakers would just shut up

and accept their group’s traditional place in society.

Done them all, as best you could? Then let’s score your answers, and get an idea of

whether you’re cut out to be an authoritarian follower. First, you can skip your

answers to the first two statements. They don’t count. I put those items on the test to

give people some experience with the -4 to +4 response system. They’re just “warmups.”

Start therefore with No. 3.

  • If you wrote down a “-4” that’s scored as a 1.
  • If you wrote down a “-3″ that’s scored as a 2.
  • If you wrote down a “-2″ that’s scored as a 3.
  • If you wrote down a “-1″ that’s scored as a 4.
  • If you wrote down a “0″ or left the item unanswered, that’s scored as a 5.
  • If you wrote down a “+1″ that’s scored as a 6.
  • If you wrote down a “+2″ that’s scored as a 7.
  • If you wrote down a “+3″ that’s scored as an 8.
  • If you wrote down a “+4″ that’s scored as a 9.

Your answers to Items 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19 and 22 are scored the same way.

Now we’ll do the rest of your answers, starting with No. 4.

  • If you wrote down a “-4″ that’s scored as a 9.
  • If you wrote down a “-3″ that’s scored as an 8.
  • If you wrote down a “-2″ that’s scored as a 7.
  • If you wrote down a “-1″ that’s scored as a 6.
  • If you wrote down a “0″ or left the item unanswered, that’s scored as a 5.
  • If you wrote down a “+1″ that’s scored as a 4.
  • If you wrote down a “+2″ that’s scored as a 3.
  • If you wrote down a “+3″ that’s scored as a 2.
  • If you wrote down a “+4″ that’s scored as a 1.

Now simply add up your twenty scores. The lowest total possible would be 20, and

the highest, 180, but real scores are almost never that extreme.



1. dragonheartsong - July 18, 2009

Great resource! Thanks for posting this. Blessings! Jo

2. Are You a Right Wing Authoritarian? « LGBT Latest Science | Right Views - July 18, 2009

[…] See original here:  Are You a Right Wing Authoritarian? « LGBT Latest Science […]

3. tracy - March 9, 2012

i got an 83 what does that make me?

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