The similarity of attitudes towards personal and impersonal types of authority among adolescent schoolchildren

K. Rigby, P. Schofield, P. T. Slee

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    31 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines the extent to which the attitudes of young adolescents towards personal and impersonal types of authority are differentiated. Reliable measures of attitudes towards personal authorities (parents and teachers) and impersonal authorities (the police and the law) were developed with a preliminary sample of 155 secondary school students. These measures were employed with further samples of (a) third year High School students (n = 77) who also completed the Keeves (1974) Attitudes to School and School Learning Scale, and (b) first year High School students (n = 250) who also completed the Ray and Jones (1983) self-report measures of authority-salient behaviours in relation to their parents and teachers. The attitudes of the students were relatively pro-authority and did not differ according to gender. In general, the younger group of students were the more pro-authority, significantly so on the measures of attitude towards personal authorities. For each sample the pro-authority attitude measures loaded substantially (> 0·6) on the first factor of a principal components analysis. Correlations between these measures and (a) attitudes to school and school learning and (b) reported authority-salient behaviours were positive and, in general, significant for each sex. Overall, the results provided little support for the view that attitudes towards personal and impersonal type of authority are dissimilar.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)241-253
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Adolescence
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 1987


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