Friday, 27 January, 2006

The Political Compass

A posting on a bulletin board that I frequent pointed me to The Political Compass--a questionnaire that's designed to gauge your political leanings.  Since everybody was posting their "scores," I thought I'd take a look.

The questionnaire is actually well designed, although they could have selected more neutral wording on some of the questions.  Their FAQ indicates that they purposely slanted the questions--some to the right and some to the left.  All of the questions give you a four-point answer scale:  Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.  On some of the questions I would have welcomed a non-commital response between Agree and Disagree.

It only takes a few minutes to take the questionnaire, and then you get to the results page.  My major complaint about the results page is that you have to scroll down in order to see your results because the top of the page is an explanation of how the results are displayed.  In particular, the top of the page contains this graphic:

All too many people see that graphic and think that it is showing their results.  But it's not.  That graphic and the supporting text just show what the two axes mean and how to interpret your own score that's given towards the bottom of the page.  You have to scroll down to the section titled "Your political compass" in order to see your results.

My score, by the way, was 2.13 on the economic scale and -2.92 on the social scale.  That puts me slightly in the "Libertarian Right" quadrant.  I've long said that I consider myself fiscally conservative and socially liberal.  According to this questionnaire, I'm slightly more centrist than I thought, but not surprisingly so.

I found the questionnaire and the discussion on the site quite instructive.  It's worth taking a look.