Adorno et al. (1950) performed a research with almost 2,000 middle-class, Caucasian Americans, utilizing a variety of questionnaires, including one dubbed the F-scale, which evaluates fascist inclinations, which are regarded to be at the heart of the authoritarian personality. The researchers found that scores on the F-scale were highly correlated with other measures of authoritarianism then in use. They also found that individuals who scored high on the F-scale tended to report more frequent experiences of oppression and control by authority figures.
The researchers defined "fascism" as such things as admiration for Hitler, the Nazi Party, or Mussolini and belief in the need for strong leadership under which everything would function smoothly and people would know what duty was. Those who scored high on the F-scale also reported higher levels of agreement with statements like "It is necessary to keep common people in their place," and "It is important to act so that those who are responsible for running society feel they can't do anything wrong."
They concluded that there is a relationship between fascism and authoritarian personality, but it's not clear whether this relationship is causal. That is, they could have decided to measure these things together because people who score high on one measure tend to score high on the other measure. Or perhaps there is something about being exposed to certain conditions (such as living in an authoritarian society) that causes people to develop both traits at once.
The California F-scale is a 1947 personality test developed by Theodor W. Adorno and others to assess authoritarian tendencies. The F-scale is used to assess an antidemocratic personality structure, which is often described by authoritarianism. The scale has been criticized for its subjective nature and lack of predictive power.
An authoritarian personality is defined as a person with many of the following characteristics: eager to obey superiors, intolerant of people who are viewed as threats, unwilling to accept change, loyal only to those in authority, quick to judge others' actions as good or bad, and self-righteous. Individuals with these traits may not be overtly aggressive or violent, but they can still have a strong influence over their environment through intimidation and manipulation.
The California F-Scale measures these traits in adults. It contains 7 items that are rated on a 5-point scale from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree". Higher scores indicate greater agreement with each statement. The scale was originally designed for use in American psychiatric hospitals, where it was believed that understanding how people become dictators helps prevent future autocrats from acting out their behaviors.
Since then, several studies have been conducted to determine whether the California F-Scale is also effective at identifying potential dictators outside of hospital settings. Results have been mixed - some studies have found that the scale is reliable at predicting future dictatorship behavior, while others have not.
Adorno et al. (1950) claimed that bias is caused by a person's personality type. Adorno came to the conclusion that persons with authoritarian personalities were more inclined to divide people into "us" and "them" groups, with their own group being superior. This leads to discrimination against others.
Furthermore, they argued that power relations between these groups influence what music gets made and who makes it, thus shaping cultural history.
Their ideas have been influential in studying bias in culture.
Today, some scholars study bias not only between cultures but also within cultures. For example, some researchers have looked at biases between the sexes or among different racial groups.
Scholars have also studied how individuals' personal traits can cause them to be prejudiced; for example, one study showed that people who score high on measures of authoritarianism are more likely to exhibit bias against minorities.
Prejudice is a very complex topic with many factors involved. The next time you hear some music you really like, think about why you like it so much.