In the conservative 1950s, The Authoritarian Personality was soundly debunked as poor science. Among the charges leveled against the book and its authors were that they had not taken into consideration racial, social and economic differences, which would have skewed the test results, and that the questions themselves were unfairly weighted to only allow agreement or disagreement with statements that reflected the conservative, political right. Whatever the shortcomings of the scales that were used, though, the results seemed to correlate with a number of different personality types, and in the past decade or so, attention has turned back to the Adorno book and the F-scale.
In a nutshell, the Authoritarian personality is not, as some critics have tried to claim, authoritative. Instead, it is more concerned with maintaining order through conformity and submission. The revised view of the authoritarian personality includes the following elements:
- Excessive and rigid conformity to social norms
- Submissiveness to authority
- Intolerance of difference
- Insecurity and fear
- Superstitious thought (including strong religious beliefs)
- Rigid, stereotyped thoughts
We can see this type of personality at work in fanatics of any kind. At least one author has drawn a parallel between the Authoritarian personality and terrorist suicide bombers, and more than one social commentator has drawn a link between the authoritarian personality and religious and/or patriotic fanaticism.