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Personality: Self concept · Personality testing · Theories · Mind-body problem

The California F-scale is a 1947 personality test, designed by Theodor W. Adorno and others to measure the authoritarian personality.[1] The "F" stands for "fascist". The F-scale measures responses on several different components of authoritarianism, such as conventionalism, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "Toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and sex.[2] Scores acquired from the F-scale could be directly associated with background components, educational level, and intellectual capacity.[3] It is an indirect type of test that ensures the result would not be due to the individual's fake responses; this is possible because the purpose of the measurement and which attitude is being measured are initially concealed from the participants.[4] The existence of this correlation could possibly affect the way in which the F-scale accurately measures the authoritarian personality syndrome.[3] The F-Test has two principal purposes: it aims to measure prejudice and anti-democratic tendencies at the personality level.[4]

The purpose of the F-scale is to measure an antidemocratic personality structure, usually defined by authoritarianism. A score of above 80 on the F-scale test indicates that the subject may be suffering from severe psychopathology. Patients who suffer from repeated episodes of disorders usually get a higher F-scale score than those who have acute disorders. Besides, people who have a high F-scale score mostly likely have a lower educational level.[5] The scale specifically examines the following personality dimensions:

  • Conventionalism: conformity to the traditional societal norms and values of the middle class;
  • Authoritarian submission: a passive notion towards adhering to conventional norms and values;
  • Authoritarian aggression: punishing and condemning individuals who don’t adhere to conventional values;
  • Superstition;
  • Power and "toughness";
  • Stereotyping;
  • Destructiveness and cynicism;
  • Anti-intraception; and
  • Sexuality.[6]

F-scale tests measure not only the subject's overall level of stress but also his or her willingness to cooperate in the testing process.[7]

Early researchEdit

Research in the late 1960s focused on police and the detection of authoritarianism.

Doubt about its indirect measureEdit

According to data presented by Levinson, a hypothesis was formed proposing that brighter people are capable of penetrating the significance of the F scale, helping them react in a more “suitable” fashion. Hence, because the F scale can be faked, it cannot be considered as an indirect measure.[4]


The scale has attracted a great deal of criticism, since it is ideological and associates societal processes with personality characteristics.[6]

Among the criticisms of the F-scale is its sensitivity to respondents with acquiescent response styles due to being worded so that agreement always indicated an authoritarian response. A number of related scales such as the Wilson-Patterson Conservatism Scale and the Balanced F-scale have been created in an attempt to fix the shortcomings of the F-scale. Bob Altemeyer's Right-wing authoritarianism Scale is the most frequently used, contemporary descendant of the F-scale.[citation needed]

Another criticism of the test is the assumption that users with a high score are unsophisticated and may lack social intelligence. According to Kelman and Barclay (1963), the experience of the participant is reflected on the test score; i.e., they may not be able to see the obvious pattern and motives recurring in the test and be ignorant of it.

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