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Bolo Boffin

Bolo Boffin's Journal
Bolo Boffin's Journal
July 6, 2013

Are you a right-wing authoritarian? Take the test today!

Bob Altemeyer in his book The Authoritarians shares a 22 question test he uses to determines someone's approximate level on the Right-Wing Authoritarian scale. The scoring is a little complex, but it makes for the best way to take the test and then measure the score.

However, after trying to write it out here and make it understandable, I thought to do a search and see if someone has automated the process. They have! The link is here.


One very important instruction is about having different feelings about different parts of the same sentence. Altemeyer asks that you score each part separately and then add those numbers together to get your final answer for the statement.

This website doesn't give the score on the same scale as Altemeyer, though. It does it by percentages. My answer, for example, ranked me as 18% Authoritarian, which is rather low compared to the rest of the country. Although I'm sure I'll be one of the higher scores here at DU!

But I truly believe that almost everyone here at DU will hit around my score or lower. And that's why I offer the test - just to see where DU tends to rank. You don't have to share your exact score, or even at all. Altemeyer points out that people tend to overvalue scores like this. But I hope a few will, so we can find a general range. And I'd be surprised to find anyone here who hits above 20% at all.

(A note about the quiz site. I was able to get my score without signing up for anything. You can, too.)

ETA: Just a note for those who find the test simplistic, dumb, etc. Altemeyer addresses these kinds of questions in his book "The Authoritarians." Here's the link to the PDF:


But a couple of things: the statements had to be unambiguous to make the cut. If the statements were more subtle or ambiguous, then responses would be all over the map. And the statements are designed to test for authoritarianism, not conservatism. It's not so much the beliefs you hold that make you authoritarian, whether conservative or liberal. It's how far you think you can enforce your personal or societal beliefs on other people. You could, for example, believe that polygamy was a sin but if others wished to engage in it, it was none of your business. That's a conservative view, but not an authoritarian one.

Also, Altemeyer is using the term "right" in "right wing authoritarian" in a non-political sense. It's not conservative, right wing politics he's after, but the notion of being correct. From the PDF, "I’m using the word “right” in one of its earliest meanings, for in
Old English “riht”(pronounced “writ”) as an adjective meant lawful, proper, correct, doing what the authorities said."

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Member since: 2002
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About Bolo Boffin

I am done resisting conspiratorial thinking and the political pessimism it engenders here. I am going to be part of the solution somewhere else. You can find me on Twitter as @BoloBoffin. Some of my debunking of 9/11 Truth nonsense can be found at ae911truth.info. Vote progressive. Vote Democratic Party.

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