First Advisor

Janice Haaken

Term of Graduation

Fall 1990

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Conformity, Authority, Social classes



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, v, 91 pages)


This study examined the relationship between attitudes toward authority, identification with authority and conformity in relation to authority in American undergraduate college students. The study consisted of two parts. The first part examined correlates of attitudes toward authority according to social class. Undergraduate college students attending Portland State University comprised the samples in which two groups, a middle-class group and a working-class group of equal sizes (n=63), were formed. A relatively new, standardized measure of attitudes toward institutional authority, the GAIAS (Rigby, 1982), was used to measure orientation toward authority by social class. No significant differences in attitudes toward authority emerged for the two social class groups. A significant preference was shown 2 by middle-class students for self-employment over an organizational setting, while working-class students showed a preference for employment within an organizational setting.

The second part of the study used a single subject sample (n=100), and compared responses of American college students on the GAIAS with those of English and Australian college students in the Rigby (1984) study. American college students were more pro-authority than Australian college students but not more pro-authority than English college students. In terms of political party affiliation and attitudes toward authority, American college student Democrats were more pro-authority than either the Australian or English Labour Party supporters. There were no significant differences between the U.S., Australian and English samples in attitudes toward authority for conservative political party supporters.


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