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Another political compass test:

These tests are pretty arbitrary as to your precise position on the ideological spectrum. Do one's views on gay marriage get weighted just the same in the outcome as whether one thinks parents should use spanking as a form of discipline? Weighted more? Less? How much so? But the tests do tend to capture roughly where people stand. Besides, they're fun.

I came out a +2.00 on the economic issues scale (that's slightly right of center) and -3.38 on the social issues scale (that's libertarian, a word I would not use to describe myself, but only slightly so). Pretty boring: I'm basically a moderate according to this test, certainly less libertarian than either Andrew Sullivan or, I'm guessing, most of my fellow VC bloggers.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. My Political Compass Score:
  2. Another political compass test:
Anderson (mail) (www):
certainly less libertarian than either Andrew Sullivan or, I'm guessing, most of my fellow VC bloggers.

But they're *not* libertarian! Nor conservative! They're ... Volokhian!
1.10.2007 1:40pm
Waldensian (mail):
It would be so much more interesting if these tests would disclose how each question is "scored," but it seems they never do.
1.10.2007 1:57pm
Luke G. (mail):
I wish they would allow you to skip some questions...some are so loaded or poorly worded that they'd skew the entire test.
1.10.2007 2:02pm
Oren (mail):
I'm calling for the creation of a new political pole called "empiricists" in which ideology is secondary to the facts.
1.10.2007 2:08pm
JB:
Ugh! I can't even get through the first page. The questions are simply abominable.
1.10.2007 2:10pm
KeithK (mail):
Agreed Luke. At the very least I'd prefer a neutral option for some of the questions.
1.10.2007 2:11pm
Goober (mail):
More than "neutral," I'd prefer an option stating "I decline to answer on the grounds that this question is very poorly worded." Can the authors really fail to understand how modifiers like "some," "all," "never" etc. undermine whatever diagnostic purpose the question serves? Statements like "Some people are beyond redemption" could be strongly agreed with by the Pope, I might think.
1.10.2007 2:15pm
december (mail):
I agree that the test wording is terrible. I believe my result was skewed by my interpretations of several poorly worded questions.
1.10.2007 2:17pm
JB:
Also, questions that ask you to choose between two and only two options...suck.
1.10.2007 2:18pm
Citizen Deux (www):
Well, I think it's a total disaster. The test pretty accurately portrayed my social leanings (-3.38) but a dead zero on economics is hardly representative of my mostly free market views!
1.10.2007 2:18pm
...Max... (mail):
Not to mention that the difference between "Agree/Disagree" and "Strongly So" is hard to quantify. Either it should be a numeric scale (with implied assumption that linear averaging is used) or there has to be some other indication of what "Strongly" means in terms of the resulting score.
1.10.2007 2:20pm
Connie (mail):
Agree with the commentors who say the questions are poorly worded. For example: "It's fine for society to be open about sex, but these days it's going too far." If you disagree, are you disagreeing with the first part or the second part?
1.10.2007 2:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I'm calling for the creation of a new political pole called "empiricists" in which ideology is secondary to the facts.

Would it surprise you very much to hear that you're describing an ideology? Cf. Keynes: "those economists who disliked theory, or claimed to get along better without it, were simply in the grip of an older theory."
1.10.2007 2:33pm
liberty (mail) (www):
I couldn't get past the first question: "If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations."

What do you mean "serve the interests of humanity"? What do you mean "serve the interests of trans-national corporations"? What policies are you implying? How do you go about achieving the result that you serve one or the other? etc
1.10.2007 2:37pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
2.88 and .46 - looks like Angela Merkel is who I am closest to, but not as authoritarian.
1.10.2007 2:40pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system

Awful question. Yes, I strongly agree that this is an advantage of the one party state. But if this question seeks to measure whether I support the one party state, it misses by a mile. It's akin to asking whether Mussolini made the trains run on time. He sure as hell did, but...

/Closest to Milton Friedman, not quite so far to the right though.
1.10.2007 2:52pm
liberty (mail) (www):
I sucked it up and went through the whole thing:
Economic Left/Right: 9.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.38
1.10.2007 2:58pm
liberty (mail) (www):
They finally put someone in my box (I was in that box last time I took the test too a couple years ago and nobody was there), Friedman. Nice.
1.10.2007 2:59pm
Jeff R.:
I think that the makers of these tests should be forced to, if they are going to include the Astrology question, put it on the first page so that one can determine the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the test at a glance before wasting further effort...
1.10.2007 3:05pm
Shelby (mail):
Speaking of the astrology question, I wonder how your answer to that gets factored in. Is endorsing astrology pro- or anti-authoritarian? (It's certainly traditional, as in ancient.) Is it pro- or anti-free market? (Sure, let astrologers sell their services.)
1.10.2007 3:17pm
A.S.:
What I like about this test is the authors' assertion that there isn't a single left wing government in all of Europe. That's right, every single government in all of Europe is right of center. Awesome!
1.10.2007 3:22pm
DaveN (mail):
I agree with many of the prior posts. The problem is that the questions are written in an absolute frame. The first time I took it, I was very much near the center (1.13 economic/-1.15 social). Then I retook the test and softened the sbsolutes into "most of the time" and jumped to 1.75 economic/-0.26 social.

Of course, I truly wonder how the owner of the website "knows" the leanings of political leaders or is it mere projection on his part. Tony Blair to the "right" of Stephen Harper? Give me a break.

George W. Bush just a tad less "fascist" than Robert Mugabe--who has sent armed goons onto farms to dispossess their white owners and who has turned a democratic Zimbabwe into a one-party police state? That's Kos Kool-Aid time--not reality.
1.10.2007 3:24pm
A.C.:
I liked that one-party state question. It's one of the few I answered as "strongly disagree," primarily because I think that slowing down debates is actually a good thing. The last thing I want is a bunch of people hollering "progress" and ramming things through really fast. (Remind you of anyone?)

Keep in mind that this is an international test, based (I believe) in the UK. Some of the people taking it may be in the new EU member states that used to be Communist, and they may have very different notions of checks and balances.

Oddly enough, I come out a bit left of center on the horizontal axis. The trouble I have with this test is that it doesn't ask the "and what should we do about it?" questions. Sure, I think that globalization should be for the benefit of humanity and not just for big corporations. But that doesn't compel me to vote for any particular platform or support any particular party. I happen to think that the best way to benefit humanity is to have fairly open economies that include some big corporations, some regulation, and lots of entrepreneurial activity. Maybe that's why I end up close to the middle.
1.10.2007 3:26pm
David Berke:
I came out even more boring than DC,

1.5 on Economic Issues (Somewhat Right of Center), -3.28 on Social Issues (moderately left). That appears to put me equidistant between Milton Friedman and Gandhi

I will join in the chorus of complaits about the test though; Often I wasn't sure how to take the question and had to guess at what they were going for.
1.10.2007 3:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system

I don't see how one can be even tempted to say "yes" to this; it's demonstrably false. What "progress" does a one-party state make? Towards what?
1.10.2007 3:31pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"Awful question. Yes, I strongly agree that this is an advantage of the one party state. But if this question seeks to measure whether I support the one party state, it misses by a mile."

Do you really agree that the arguments "delay progress"? Doesn't it depend on what you mean by progress? I agree that the one party state avoids delay. I agree that it avoids delay toward making choices. But I do not agree that it avoids delay toward making progress, because I don't think a one-party state is likely to make any progress. It will make decisions but they are likely to lead away from progress.
1.10.2007 3:31pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Liberty, all fair points, except that a question on which you should spend no more than 15 seconds should not call for a judicious analysis of the word "progress." Insofar as purely administrative progress is concerned, which how I took the question, the one party state has an advantage. The fact that we are even having this exchange testifies to the shittiness of the question.
1.10.2007 3:36pm
Nony Mouse:
Once again, I test out at being almost right in the center... I was less than a point away from the center in both axes.
1.10.2007 3:40pm
NRWO:
Economically to the right: 1.88
Socially to the left: -3.08
Equidistant between Ghandi and Friedman, both of whom I admire.

The big question is whether this and similar scales are valid, which could be examined by correlating responses on the scale with related criteria (e.g., voting behavior or political affilation).
1.10.2007 3:49pm
DDG:
Even better -- they put John Kerry as basically center right! http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection
1.10.2007 3:49pm
Witness (mail):
An internet "ideology quiz" is deeply flawed. Shocking indeed. In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.
1.10.2007 3:53pm
NRWO:
Anderson:

The items on a scale do not have to have face validity (make sense or be intuitively appealing) to have predictive utility. Consider the MMPI, which includes bizzare items but is reliably predictive of personality disorders.
1.10.2007 3:55pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
I came off as a centrist conservative libertarian- when you have to answer questions you don't think they've given you a valid response to, I don't know to what extent their accuracy will be.
1.10.2007 4:00pm
liberty (mail) (www):
One of the reasons this test seems so skewed is that the author had to put all of Europe as right of center in order to have Hitler right of center on the economics. If the author was more intellectually honest, I think that Europe and Hitler would both be left of center on economics, with Hitler quite far left and Europe near the center; while Canada and America and Hong Kong and some post-communist countries are all right of center.

Another interesting thing about this test is that no governments really show up in the bottom half, but again this is dependent on how you define it. If you scale the amount of authoritarianism more evenly, you'd find that Stalin and Hitler are *much* more authoritarian than Bush and Thatcher, who are actually quite close to Tony Blair Angela Merkel. Once you scale it appropriately, you'd find some people showing up in the bottom half. But where - left or right? I think you'd find that once left/right was scaled (putting Hitler and Europe on the left) and the free market countries on the right, I think you'd find that the socially libertarian ones run the gamut left to right except the far left. You'd want to make sure to ask all kinds of questions including smoking laws for this category, and I think you'd find that there isn't a strong correlation between left/right and authoritarian/libertarian except for the far-left of economics where it is impossible to be socially-libertarian and still communist/fascist.
1.10.2007 4:01pm
Phil (mail):
-0.38 and -0.62
Does this mean I am a centrist or that I do not believe in anything?
1.10.2007 4:07pm
NRWO:
Dale says: "...that's libertarian, a word I would not use to describe myself, but only slightly so"

Why not use the word libertarian? In what ways would you not be libertarian?
1.10.2007 4:17pm
Norman:

A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system


I took this question the same way that MikeBUSL07 did and answered "agree." Yes, a one-party state has an advantage in getting things done without delay. I still think, though, that the one-party state is highly undesirable because a little delay in politics through checks and balances is a good thing. I probably understood and answered the question in the wrong way from what the author intended.
1.10.2007 4:31pm
BobNSF (mail):

I don't see how one can be even tempted to say "yes" to this; it's demonstrably false. What "progress" does a one-party state make? Towards what?


"Progress" in the context of the statement, it seems to me, is movement towards whatever goals have been set by the ruler/rulers. Now, the goals may be quite objectionable to others and to us looking back in history, and the course taken might end in a complete debacle, but the process of unilaterally being "the Decider" (ahem) does make movement toward the goals much easier.

History is full of examples of authoritarian -- usually monarchical -- systems wherein absolute autority vested in one individual moved things along rather quickly, no?
1.10.2007 4:42pm
pmorem (mail):
I agree that the test is screwy and skewed. I came in at 6.13 economic/0.36 social.

On the matter of single-party governments, I strongly disagreed. I believe single-party governments inherently screw up their decision making processes. The only one that has come close to achieving its stated definition of 'progress' is China... which has done so by only by abandoning its objective.
1.10.2007 5:29pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Exactly. Progress implies that you are achieving a goal; but if you carry out decisions and they bring you further from your goal, then no definition of progress that I know of fits.
1.10.2007 5:37pm
txjeansguy (mail):
"I'm calling for the creation of a new political pole called "empiricists" in which ideology is secondary to the facts."

Seems like you could only answer very boring questions that way.
1.10.2007 5:37pm
txjeansguy (mail):
Oren, I take that back - I suppose you did allow for ideology to (secondarily) come into play.
1.10.2007 5:40pm
KeithK (mail):
A fundamental flaw in any test of this sort is that the scoring is very subjective. There is no objective measure to compare the test results to in order to validate it. The test writer only has his own inuitive ratings for various well known political figures to ground the numbers. How much does agreeing that globalization should help humanity not corporations move you to the left? The same amount or more than saying that protectionism is sometimes necessary? And of course the location of the center is subjective. It seems clear to me that this author sees the world from a leftist perspective where John Kerry and the EU governments are to the right on economic issues.

The only thing this test gets right is the fact that you need at least two axes to describe the political spectrum. Probably more, but two comes a lot closer than one.
1.10.2007 6:14pm
KeithK (mail):
Just out of curiousity I answered the entire test filling in nothing but "Strongly Agree". The final score was exactly zero on the economic scale but 4.36 on the authoritarian scale. To me this implies that the questions are imbalanced.
1.10.2007 6:16pm
Futuremd (www):
Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: 6.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 2.56


First, in Althouse link, I was Bob Dole (35). Now I'm Tony Blair.

Please, what a complete waste of time, and an assault to our intelligence these tests are.

A much better test would be to explain why, despite the fact people think these tests are stupid, and simplistic, why we still take 'em.

Cheers,
Victoria
1.10.2007 6:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
A much better test would be to explain why, despite the fact people think these tests are stupid, and simplistic, why we still take 'em.


I'd suggest trying to answer the question of whether it is even possible to come up with a set of survey questions that would yield meaningful information about where someone exists on the political spectrum. I suspect not because I don't think political views are susceptible to modeling on the basis of a two dimensional line with "liberal" at one end and "conservative" at the other. That approach requires one to make entirely subjective assumptions about the relative weight of one's position on various issues. In other words, the problem with coming up with a survey that reveals where one stands on the liberal / conservative scale won't work because there is no scale.

It might be possible to do something meaningful on a two dimensional approach, perhaps with a social axis and an economic axis or maybe even a three dimensional approach with the third dimension being something about one's views about the relationship between the government and the individual at some high level of abstraction. It would be interesting to see such an attempt.

Just saying that "X is a conservative because he thinks society today is generally less moral than society 50 years ago" doesn't tell you much beyond the values of the guy who wrote the question.
1.10.2007 6:37pm
Craig Oren (mail):
Oh my god, I'm a "libertarian liberal"--Economic -2.13, social -3.74 Am I worthy of posting here?

yes, these tests are terrible but I can never resist.
1.10.2007 7:32pm
Lev:
It might be worth mentioning, and it isn't immediately obvious, but the quiz and its "viewpoints" are from the UK.

From the viewpoint of the political spectrum of the UK, both the US Dem and Repub parties are "rightwing."
1.10.2007 7:58pm
Average Joe (mail):
Lev is correct about the test writers being in the UK, however, even the UK parties are labeled as (economically) right-wing by this test. If you go to the front test page (which is linked in the main post), scroll down and click on words "UK Parties 2006" it will take you to a graph of the 2006 UK parties which shows the Conservatives and New Labor as Right/Authoritarian, the Liberal Democrats and Right/Center (slightly to the Libertarian side), the Greens as Left/Libertarian, and the British National Party as Left/Authoritarian. Here is a direct link to the page. Thus, of the three major UK parties, all are ranked as economically right-wing.
1.10.2007 10:08pm
just me:
On top of the many flaws that others have identified, the quiz is flawed because many of the questions do not refer to the role of the State at all. Without such a reference, there is no valid connection between an "attitudinal" question, which may reflect only one's views about what people "should do" in making personal choices, and one's POLITICAL views about what the government should do on a given issue.

For example, one question asked me to agree or disagree with the statement that "Sex outside marriage is usually immoral." Presumably, answering "yes" to this one will score points toward authoritarianism on social issues.

But one could be a full libertarian on "sex issues" and still believe as a PERSONAL matter that sex should be preserved for marriage. That is, one could favor repeal of all laws regarding sex between constenting adults, whether sodomy laws, adultery laws, etc., and one could even favor legalized prostitution. But such a person might also believe that he or she will live by the marriage-only code; she might each her kids that; she might even write books advocating that -- but all without favoring one bit of State control.

After all, I can support drug legalization without doing cocaine. On abortion, one of the biggest debates out there, millions state their position as legally pro-choice, but personally against. Why, then, is it so hard to believe that some people separate their role-of-State view from their views of what's-best-for-me, or what's-best-for-society?

A question that doesn't even allow for this notion, and that forgets that role-of-the-State is the essence of political views, is so worthless that this flaw trumps, by comparison, the flaw in blurring degrees of sometimes/always/never and other such flaws.
1.11.2007 6:21am
Ken Arromdee:
The items on a scale do not have to have face validity (make sense or be intuitively appealing) to have predictive utility. Consider the MMPI, which includes bizzare items but is reliably predictive of personality disorders

That's possible in the abstract, but if you really think that that's how the questions are being used, I have a bridge to sell you. Obviously someone is trying to assess a person's politics by asking if they agree with political positions, but wording the questions poorly or using bad assumptions. If, in fact, the questions are useful diagnostics anyway because of how people with different political beliefs answer poorly worded questions, that's pure coincidence.
1.11.2007 10:46am
NRWO:
That's possible in the abstract, but if you really think that that's how the questions are being used, I have a bridge to sell you ...

I'm in the market for a bridge …

I'm not going to defend the scale (test) in question: The scale's psychometric properties (reliability and validity) are ultimately an empirical question. Some of its items seem double-barreled and ambiguous, which would necessarily reduce its reliability, and consequently it validity.

I was railing against the general presumption, underlying at least some remarks above, that a scale has to have face validity, and its items have to be rationally related to a putative outcome, for the scale to be valid.

The items on a scale most certainly do NOT have to have face validity for a scale to be valid. There are many examples of scales that predict significant life outcomes (psychological disorders, school performance, or job performance) but whose items have no obvious relation to the outcome being predicted.

A classic example in intelligence is the Raven's (a.k.a., Raven's Progressive Matrices or Advanced Progressive Matrices), a non-verbal pattern completion test. The Raven's is an excellent predictor of educational and job outcomes even though its item content seems hardly related to problems encountered at school or work.

I'm still grumbling about Griggs vs. Duke Power (1971), which launched an unfair attack on psychometric tests based on rational analysis of content, even though the test in that case (the Wonderlic) does a very good job of predicting job performance relative to other evaluation criteria such as resumes, supervisor's ratings, and, for entry level positions, college grades.
1.11.2007 11:14am
Ken Arromdee:
I'm still grumbling about Griggs vs. Duke Power (1971), which launched an unfair attack on psychometric tests based on rational analysis of content, even though the test in that case (the Wonderlic) does a very good job of predicting job performance

As I've said, I don't think the political compass test is that kind of test. Nobody did a statistical analysis to prove that the way someone responds to a poorly worded question is correlated with political belief; rather, they intended the question to directly ask whether someone has that belief.

So this is a digression.

But the problem with such tests is that regardless of whether they work, they put extra burdens on specific groups. If stamp collectors have a higher rate of on-the-job theft, an employer can benefit by firing all stamp collectors. But that also means that anyone who collects stamps has to give up their hobby or lose their job. It's bad enough if people are fired for personal interests like collecting stamps, but if you replace "collecting stamps" with "being black", then an employer can benefit by firing all blacks--and being black is much harder to give up.
1.11.2007 3:37pm