An Investigation of the Validity and Reliability of Measures of Right-Wing Authoritarianism in South Africa

Gray, D. and Durrheim, K. (2006) An Investigation of the Validity and Reliability of Measures of Right-Wing Authoritarianism in South Africa. South African Journal of Psychology, 36 (3). pp. 500-521. Available from:

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In this article, we examine the findings of three studies of right-wing authoritarianism conducted in South Africa. The main aim of this analysis is report on the validity and reliability of measures of right-wing authoritarianism across three samples, i.e. a group of police persons, a group of English University students and a group of Afrikaans University students. In these three studies, two measures of authoritarianism have been used that is, the 30-item version of Altemeyer’s (1981, 1988) RWA scale and the 14-item version of Altemeyer’s RWA scale developed by Duckitt (1993a) for use in South African samples. Participants were also given measures of conservatism, prejudice and political beliefs. These scales were then subjected to analyses of internal consistency, factor analysis and correlational analysis. The findings of this investigation show some departure from previous studies in this area, in that they do not show the levels of validity and reliability reported in other contexts, nor to these measures perform as theoretically indicated by Altemeyer (1981, 1988) and Duckitt (1989, 1991a). Across all three studies, low correlations were found with measures of prejudice, conservatism and political party preferences. In addition, the three-component model (authoritarian aggression, authoritarian submission and conventionalism) proposed by these authors did not emerge in factor analysis. It will be argued that these findings cause us to question the use of RWA scales in South Africa, with a number of implications for authoritarian research in this context.

Item Type:Article
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences > Department of Health and Social Sciences
ID Code:13626
Deposited By: Dr D. Gray
Deposited On:27 Jan 2011 12:39
Last Modified:01 May 2016 16:17

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