Are You An Authoritarian? Take the Survey

A tip of the hat to Cliff Lyon at, who put me onto a book called "The Authoritarians" by Bob Altemeyer.  Am I an authoritarian? I took the quiz on the book's pages 11 and 12.  I hope you'll take the survey, too.  See below how I answered the questions, along with my reasons for my answers.

In the beginning pages of his book, Altemeyer writes the following
Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want--which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.
He also points out that although
In North America people who submit to the established authorities to extraordinary degrees often turn out to be political conservatives...a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views.
You can find Altemeyer's book here. The survey begins on page 11 of the book.

To take the Authoritarian survey, use the following key:

Write down a -4 if you very strongly disagree with the statement.
Write down a -3 if you strongly disagree with the statement.
Write down a -2 if you moderately disagree with the statement.
Write down a -1 if you slightly disagree with the statement.
Write down a +1 if you slightly agree with the statement.
Write down a +2 if you moderately agree with the statement.
Write down a +3 if you strongly agree with the statement.
Write down a +4 if you very strongly agree with the statement.

Below are the 22 questions, my answers, and the reasoning for them.

1. The established authorities generally turn out to be right about things, while the radicals and protestors are usually just “loud mouths” showing off their ignorance. (-4)  

Establishment authorities from both major political parties have often been wrong. Radicals and protesters, whether the are loud mouths or not, are very healthy.
2. Women should have to promise to obey their husbands when they get married. (-1)

That's silly. Husbands and wives should be equally loyal to one another. One of the things that used to bug me about the Mormon church is that men brought their scriptures to church and women took care of the kids at church. There is a much more healthy sharing of those roles nowadays.

3. Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us. (-3)  

That's what was wrong with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. That's also what was wrong with Joe McCarthy's tactics. "Sinfulness", if it overtakes a nation, will lead to that nation's ruin, but a "mighty leader to destroy" is a solution worse than the disease.

4. Gays and lesbians are just as healthy and moral as anybody else. (+1)  

I think that gays and lesbians are missing the entire point of life--that to progress and become like God requires eternal marriage between a man and a woman, but I think they are otherwise often MORE moral than society as a whole.

5. It is always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubt in people’s minds (-4)  

Rabble rousers creating doubt is a healthy thing, whether it comes to government, religion, or man-caused global warming. We should NEVER simply trust the judgment of the authorities. We should know for ourselves--empirically in the case of government issues, and through a personal witness of the spirit when religious concerns are involved.

6. Atheists and others who have rebelled against the established religions are no doubt every bit as good and virtuous as those who attend church regularly. (+3)  

I didn't put a +4 only because I believe that a world that was peopled with 100% atheists would tend to be a very scary place--a place of no morals and of survival of the fittest.

7. The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional values, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas. (-4)  

It is important to get back to traditional values, but to put tough leaders in power who force everyone to be that way will never work. We can only turn to traditional values by careful persuasion.  That takes good (meek) leaders--not "tough" ones.

8. There is absolutely nothing wrong with nudist camps. (+1)  

They can do whatever they want as long as it is a private camp.

9. Our country needs free thinkers who have the courage to defy traditional ways, even if this upsets many people. (+4)  

Great statement. I completely agree. I have nothing to add.

10. Our country will be destroyed someday if we do not smash the perversions eating away at our moral fiber and traditional beliefs. (-1)  

As I mentioned in my answer to question 7 above, I think our country will fail if we don't get back to traditional values, but "smashing the perversions" is as far from a traditional value as I think we can get.

11. Everyone should have their own lifestyle, religious beliefs, and sexual preferences, even if it makes them different from everyone else. (+4)  

I quote LDS Church leader Dieter Uchtdorf in my strong agreement with this statement: "I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters a special measure of humanity, compassion..."

12. The “old-fashioned ways” and the “old-fashioned values” still show the best way to live. (+1) 

I put +1 because there are several different ideas in peoples minds as to what "old-fashioned values" means. I don't believe in forcing these ideas on others.

13. You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting for women’s abortion rights, for animal rights, or to abolish school prayer. (+3) 

I completely agree that we should admire these people. I put +3, only because I don't think prayer should have been abolished from public schools.

14. What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil, and take us back to our true path. (-4)  

Hitler, Stalin, and Mao did that. We all know how that turned out.

15. Some of the best people in our country are those who are challenging our government, criticizing religion, and ignoring the “normal way things are supposed to be done.” (+4)  

That is just an extremely true statement.

16. God’s laws about abortion, pornography and marriage must be strictly followed before it is too late, and those who break them must be strongly punished. (-1) 

I think our country will be better off if we follow these laws, but strong punishment is not the answer, unless those things are engaged in to the point that they violate other people's rights.

17. There are many radical, immoral people in our country today, who are trying to ruin it for their own godless purposes, whom the authorities should put out of action. (-4)  

It's actually the authorities who are "trying to ruin it for their own godless purposes".  The radicals should speak out against them.

18. A “woman’s place” should be wherever she wants to be. The days when women are submissive to their husbands and social conventions belong strictly in the past. (+4)  

See the LDS Church's Proclamation to the World on The Family.

19. Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our forefathers, do what the authorities tell us to do, and get rid of the “rotten apples” who are ruining everything. (-2) 

I think our country WILL be great if "we honor the ways of our forefathers". Otherwise I disagree with the question.

20. There is no “ONE right way” to live life; everybody has to create their own way. (+3)  

Tim McGraw's song, "Drugs or Jesus" states it correctly: everyone just wants to find the truth. If we put people down or exercise force against them because they don't conform to what we think the truth is, neither of us will find the true meaning of life.

21. Homosexuals and feminists should be praised for being brave enough to defy traditional family values. (+3)  

Traditional family values are, in my opinion, very important to a healthy society, but equally important is a person's right to disagree.

22. This country would work a lot better if certain groups of troublemakers would just shut up and accept their group’s traditional place in society. (-4)  

If we were referring to career Establishment politicians here, I'd probably agree with this statement. ;-) But seriously, it's important for all the different groups of troublemakers to try to see each others' points of view rather than just calling them names.


  1. The LDS Proclamation to the World on the Family makes the following:

    "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed."

    That hardly supports the statement in the survey:

    "A “woman’s place” should be wherever she wants to be. The days when women are submissive to their husbands and social conventions belong strictly in the past."

    In the LDS "Proclamation" the role of the husband is to "preside" over the family (which includes his wife) and her primary responsibility is the nurture of her children.

    One cannot agree completely with statement #18 in the survey, and also agree with the LDS Proclamation on the Family. The two are diametrically opposed. To offer the LDS Proclamation to support your answer on #18 is totally without logic.

    That said, it is incredibly easy to fill out a form giving your principles and values as you would like others to see them. It is far more difficult to "walk the walk". Actions speak far louder than words in this respect.


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