Psychological Self-Help

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The authoritarian personality and prejudice
During World War II, Hitler's Germany openly declared war on most of the
world and secretly murdered six million Jews. Hitler had been elected by
claiming his country was threatened from within by rioting students and from
without by Russian Communists; he called for law and order. Jews were
Germany's readily available scapegoat. Hitler became a strong, authoritarian
leader and many of the German people accepted his control. Why do some
people idolize leaders? Why do some parents demand obedience and harshly
punish any misbehavior, especially anger towards them? Why are certain
people more "straight," stern, distant, intolerant, and hostile while others are
nonconformists, tolerant, and loving? 
What kind of people would follow an aggressive, arrogant, critical,
prejudiced leader? The classic study on this topic is The Authoritarian
Personality. These authors (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson & Sanford,
1950) described several traits of authoritarian leaders, like Hitler, and their
followers, like the German people: 
1. Rigid, unthinking adherence to conventional, middle-class ideas
of right and wrong. The distinction has to be made between (a)
incorporating (as in Kohlberg's stage 6--see chapter 3) universal
values and (b) having blind allegiance to traditional social-political-
religious customs or organizations. Examples: an egalitarian person
who truly values one-person-one-vote, equal rights, equal
opportunities, and freedom of speech will support a democracy, not a
dictatorship. A person who says, "I love my country--right or wrong"
or "America--love it or leave it" may be a flag-waving, patriotic
speech-making politician who is secretly an antidemocratic
authoritarian (similar in some ways to Hitler). For the authoritarian the
values of respecting and caring for others are not as important as
being a "good German" or a "good American" or a "good Catholic" or a
"good Baptist." 
Important values to an authoritarian are obedience, cleanliness,
success, inhibition or denial of emotions (especially anger and even
love), firm discipline, honoring parents and leaders, and abhorring all
immoral sexual feelings. This was the German character. Authoritarian
parents tend to produce dominated children who become authoritarian
parents. Egalitarians produce egalitarians. 
2. Respect for and submission to authority--parents, teachers,
religion, bosses, or any leader. This includes a desire for a strong
leader and for followers to revere the leader, following him (seldom
her) blindly. It was believed by the psychoanalytic writers of The
Authoritarian Personality that recognizing one's hostile feelings
towards an authority was so frightening that the authoritarian
personality was compelled to be submissive. There is an emphasis on
following rules and regulations, on law and order. Everyone has a
proper role to play, including gender role. 
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