ALIENATION, DOGMATISM AND ACQUIESCENCE
JOHN J. RAY
University of New South Wales, Australia
On a random sample of 118 Australians, dogmatism and alienation were found not to correlate when acquiescence was controlled for. Scales of cognitive complexity and alienation may correlate only because of a shared radicalism artifact.
Sexton (1983) finds a relationship between dogmatism and alienation, but neglects the problem of acquiescence with the one-way-worded Dogmatism scale (Ray, 1979). Her results simply may show that alienated people are prone to agree with vague statements.
This can be tested because there was included in the battery administered to a random sample of 118 Australians described by Ray (1974, Study III) not only a balanced Dogmatism scale, but also a balanced Alienation scale (Ray, 1982).
The positively and negatively worded halves of the Dogmatism scale correlated -.27. Because the anti-Dogmatic items were written and pretested to be as opposite as possible to the original items, this low correlation between them strongly suggests a powerful tendency toward meaningless acquiescence in the data.
The reliabilities (alpha) of the two balanced scales were .75 (Alienation) and .82 (Dogmatism). Using only the positively-worded halves of both scales, dogmatism and alienation were found to correlate.461 (p <.01). Using the full balanced forms of the two scales, however, the correlation was only .104 (ns). The relationship described by Sexton is then replicable, but vanishes when controls for acquiescence are applied. All correlations with the one-way-worded Dogmatism scale are therefore of doubtful meaning.
In also correlating cognitive complexity scores from the OPI with alienation scores, Sexton ignores the possibility of another artifact -- the heavy contamination of both scales by liberalism /conservatism. Despite their different titles, from their item content both scales could be seen largely as alternative scales of radicalism. For instance, "Politically, I am something of a radical" is an item that supposedly measures complexity. Sexton's interpretation of her results is then very overblown.
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