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Perpetrator Studies Network


Adorno, T.W. et al. The Authoritarian Personality

One of the first studies to attempt to explain the Holocaust. Philosopher Theodor Adorno and a group of psychologists at Stanford University argue that fascists have certain personality traits in common that make them susceptible to fascism. These traits come together in varying intensity from person to person according to childhood experiences. Among these traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission and aggression, superstition and stereotypy, and destructiveness and cyniscism. People can be ranked on the “F-scale” that indicates to what extent they have an authoritarian personality. This study was later heavily criticized, including by Adorno himself, for, among other reasons, the methodology, neglecting social factors, and failing to define what a personality is. Nonetheless, The Authoritarian Personality remains an important point of reference until today.

Adorno, T.W. et al. The Authoritarian Personality: Studies in Prejudice. 1950. Edited by Max Horkheimer and Samuel H. Flowerman, W.W. Norton & Company, 1982.