PSYC12 t THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PREJUDICE: TEXTBOOK NOTES
Chapter 4: The Prejudiced Personality: Are Some People More Likely To Feed Prejudice?
¾ Up until the Nazis in Germany from 1933 to 1945, psychologists had explained prejudice as a psychodynamic process of unconscious
¾ One of the first attempts to examine the prejudiced personality was put forth by Adorno and his colleagues (1950), with their description
¾ According to Adorno et al., some people have personality structures that are flawed in such a way that they are conditioned to be
especially likely to adopt prejudiced attitudes.
¾ Adorno and his colleagues interviewed and tested hundreds of individuals and found that for a subset of these personstthe
authoritarianstcertain patterns of prejudice, childhood upbringing, and relationships with parents tended to be quite common.
¾ Specially, authoritarians tended to grow up in homes in which the parents or guardians were strict disciplinarians, often using harsh
discipline to keep the children from misbehaving and to punish them when they disobeyed the parent or guardian.
¾ Authoritarians were more likely to be submissive to authority, to adhere strictly to middle-class traditions and values, and to think very
¾ Adorno et al., also found that authoritarians, more than other individuals, tended to hold prejudices against not just one group but many
¾ Authoritarians hated deviant impulses (e.g. aggression, sex) and were also more likely to externalize these unacceptable impulses to
others via protection.
¾ In sum, ZµZ}]]v[(}(vvvÇ}vZvU}µoÁ]ZZ]Zvµ]]}v}(Zuv}Z
impetus to displace or channel these unacceptable parent-related impulses and their own impulses into hostility toward minority groups.
¾ Authoritarian personality characteristics can also be found in some minority group members.
tendency to evidence prejudice, it is unclear whether the correlation is a result of the child developing the authoritarian personality
characteristics and hence a greater intolerance of minority groups, or if it is ]uoÇµo}(ZZ]o]vvo]Ì]vPZv[Àoµ
and ethnic attitudes.
contributor in developing prejudiced attitudes.
¾ Allport discussed the prejudice personality in psychodynamic terms.
¾ He o]ÀZZiµ]}vo]ÇuP}µ}(^]o_P}X Specifically, this individual feels threatened, insecure, and
fearful of virtually everything.
¾ In trying to overcome these insecurities, the person develops a prejudiced view of others as a way of projecting their fears and self-
doubts onto others.
¾ In addition to projection, Allport suggested that people with a prejudiced personality tend to repress their fears and insecurities so that
they can avoid facing their anxieties and shortcomings.
¾ This repressions leads to the development of many of the same characteristics possessed by the authoritarian individual: ambivalence
towards parents, moralism, a need for definiteness, and dichotomization.
Problems with the Psychodynamic Approach
¾ There were four main reasons for the decline of empirical interest in the theory.
¾ First, researchers became more and more critical of psychoanalytic approaches to personality.
¾ In another line of inquiry, Martin and Westie (1959) suggested that prejudice may be a result of an intolerant personality. These
individuals tended to be suspicious of politicians, intolerant of ambiguity.
¾ Second, methodological and other conceptual problems with the notion of the authoritarian personality caused many researchers to
conclude that the approach was unsatisfactory under scientific standards.
¾ The primary measures of authoritarianism, the F-scale (fascism), the A-S scale (for anti-Semitism), and the E-scale (ethnocentrism) were
worded in such a way that it was unclear whether high scores indicated agreement with the authoritarian beliefs (an example item from