In 1943, three psychology professors at the University of California at Berkeley were struggling to understand the most horrific European genocide in a generation.
As the war raged overseas, Daniel Levinson, Nevitt Sanford, and Else Frenkel-Brunswik decided to use the greatest power at their disposal—scientific rationality—to stop fascism from ever rising again.
He later founded the Wright Institute to reform higher education.
If we could test soldiers for shell shock, why not test citizens for anti-Semitism and a tendency to follow dictators?
Some of the answers they got seemed to reflect democratic values, such as when a business student told them that he wanted to hire a diverse workforce and work with people from all over the world.
As a result of these findings, the F-scale in its final form was intended to measure ethnocentrism, superstition, aggression, cynicism, conservatism, and an inordinate interest in the private sex lives of others as the building blocks for a personality drawn to authoritarian leaders.