Because of an editing error in an article yesterday about her appointment as White House deputy director of public liaison, Linda Lugenia Arey's present title was stated incorrectly. She is executive secretary at the Department of Transportation.

President Reagan today named Linda Chavez, staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to be White House director of public liaison, responsible for dealing with various political constituencies and outside interest groups.

Chavez, who will become one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in the administration, said today she has decided to change her party registration from Democratic to Republican.

White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan told of the party switch when he announced her appointment to reporters here. Regan said Chavez, 37, had not been forced to change parties before receiving the White House post and was only following the "tradition" of the president, who became a Republican in the early 1960s.

Chavez, who is an outspoken critic of the use of numerical quotas to redress discrimination and has had sharp disagreements with some civil rights advocacy groups, said she thought about changing parties before last year's election.

Citing a similar switch recently by former U.N. ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Chavez said, "it's very difficult to continue to call yourself a Democrat" and that it has been "many elections since I've been able to vote for a Democrat for president."

Regan said that as part of his reorganization of the White House, Chavez will report to communications director Patrick J. Buchanan.

She will hold the rank of deputy assistant to the president, a notch below that held by Faith Ryan Whittlesey, who is leaving the public liaison post to again become ambassador to Switzerland.

Chavez said Buchanan was "one of my chief supporters" for the post.

The White House also announced the appointment of Linda Lugenia Arey, currently deputy secretary of transportation, as deputy director of public liaison.

The public liaison job has traditionally been one of taking the White House message to various political constituencies, such as business, labor, ethnic and religious groups, as well as hearing their complaints. Whittlesey emphasized pushing Reagan's Central America policy.

Chavez is a one-time official of the American Federation of Teachers and a former staff member on the House Judiciary subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights. Her views on civil rights have paralleled those of Reagan and have clashed with those of many in civil rights organizations.

She has taken issue with government actions and court rulings that appear to go beyond what she describes as the government's proper function of assuring equal opportunity and enforcing laws against discrimination.

"I think of myself as committed to the original idea of the civil rights movement," she has said in an interview. "Equal opportunity is all that the government can guarantee. Results are really dependent on individual initiative and employers' obeying the nondiscrimination laws. I disagree with some of the major civil rights advocate organizations because of their view of what is a proper remedy. I also have some disagreement with court decisions that use race preference as a legitimate remedy."

Chavez, who is of Spanish descent, graduated from the University of Colorado and did graduate work at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Maryland.