The Political Compass

There has been flurry of bloggers posting their results on the Political Compass Test. This test attempts to measure your political leanings on a two-dimensional scale, with a left/right axis and a libertarian/authoritarian axis. Lawrence Solum has collected some of the results here.

This has inspired me to reorganize the results into a table so you can see at a glance where everyone is, add links to all the blogs, and add a form so others can easily add themselves.

[Go here to see the table and the form.](http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/survey/compass.html)

I don’t think the results of the test should be taken too seriously—I found several questions that were rather ambiguous and my results might have been different if I had interpreted them differently. The test also rated me as more libertarian than David Friedman, which seems rather wrong to me. Nor are the results below representative of all bloggers, since it is a self selected sample. But it’s fun to do the test and see where you end up, so enjoy yourself!

If you want to add your own result to the table, you can take the political compass survey here.

Political Compass graph

Update: There has been some interesting discussion about whether a 2D political model like this is at all meaningful. Julian Sanchez says “yes”, while Matt Yglesias says “no”. I’ve plotted the results and drawn a best-fit line through them and it looks to me as if there is some justification for a 2D model. On the left side of the graph most everyone lies close to the line, but on the right side there are people in the top right quadrant (“conservatives”) and in the bottom right quadrant (“libertarians”) and the line isn’t really close to either group.

Possibly this is because libertarians are overrepresented in this (non-random) sample. If libertarians are much less common in the general population then the conventional left/right axis will fit much better there.

Update 2: Russell Arben Fox is all by himself in the upper left of the graph and is feeling lonely.

At the moment about two thirds of the entries are on the left side. I think this is because left bloggers are more likely to read left blogs, so links to this page have propagated more in left blogspace.

Update 3: Jacob Levy found the Political Compass questions so bad that he couldn’t even get consistent results from the survey. Well, now there’s a a better survey.

Comments

  1. #1 Arpan
    November 5, 2003

    Where the heck is volokh? I’d think he’d be exemplary of “right libertarian”

  2. #2 Southern Conservatives
    November 5, 2003

    After reading everyone in the blogosphere’s results from this political compass quiz, I decided to take it myself, you can view my results here. Additionally, Tim Lambert has a nice collection of everyone’s responses.

  3. #3 Kevin Baker
    November 5, 2003

    I took the test back in June, and I still get the same result.

    I’m not surprised to see you left of me, Tim, but MORE libertarian? That’s a shocker.

  4. #4 NeoCON
    November 5, 2003

    I was hoping the political compass would help me find a boyfriend. There are worse ways… Anyway, with the Gender Genie saying I’m male, I should know better than to trust these things. Find my result among other bloggers.

    By the way, Professor Bainbridge is right when he says that “this remain[s] the best procrastination tool on the internet”!

  5. #5 The Calico Cat
    November 5, 2003

    The test says I fall in the middle, and I don’t buy that. I feel way to strongly about stuff to be a moderate!

  6. #6 Dave
    November 5, 2003

    Sorry. but I added myself again when I reloaded the page.
    I ought to say that I took the test last Novemeber when I found a link on Rebecca Blood’s site. I had forgotten about it until someone else discovered it and wanted to know if the questions were biased to producing a left/liberal result. That theory seems to be wrong, but the whole thing seems unscientific to me now.

  7. #7 Mark Gisleson
    November 5, 2003

    One of the better tests I’ve taken of this kind. Most seem to be determined to force me into a predetermined category this was the first test where my results reflected where I see myself on the political spectrum. Good work! Now I’m off to read some of my fellow lefty-libertarians…

  8. Nyah, Nyah… got a section all to myself

  9. #9 Russell Arben Fox
    November 5, 2003

    I always suspected that the sort of left communitarianism (the religious left, call it what you will) I adhere to was pretty much the rarest political position to be found around the blogosphere. Well, while obviously the recorded results are self-selected and statistically unreliable, it does appear that I was right. Thanks for presenting a nice schematic that confirms my suspicions. How many entries to you think the graph could hold before it gets out of hand?

  10. #10 Skip Perry
    November 5, 2003

    -.56 economic, -2.97 authoritarian, and both will surely increase after I graduate.

  11. #11 p mac
    November 5, 2003

    What that graph shows is not that “liberals are more libertarian than conservatives” but that the primary axes are not drawn correctly. The “libertarian” vs “authoritarian” divide really should be whether you are above or below the primary axis.

    As the graph is drawn, it simply shows that the site is biased more towards social libertarian than economic libertarian issues.

  12. #12 Anthony
    November 5, 2003

    The particular quiz is flawed by plotting general political beliefs on one axis against cultural beliefs on the other, yet pretending that the cultural beliefs are political ones also. For example, on many of the “cultural” questions, my personal beliefs are more conservative than my beliefs in what the law should or should not allow. I believe that there is far too much sex in advertising and on tv shows aimed at kids, etc., but I also strongly believe that the government should regulate that less than they do now. The way that question is posed, I give the “authoritarian” answer, though my *political* beliefs are libertarian.

    The economics questions mostly don’t suffer from this flaw, though there are a few false dichotomies which reflect a lack of understanding of libertarian/capitalist economic theories. A free-market supporter will argue that globalisation benefits both people and large corporations, and that the question as posed is impossible to answer.

  13. #13 John Quiggin
    November 5, 2003

    I don’t now how much time you have to waste, but something I think would be fun is a principal components analysis of the Political Compass data. If you have a standard package it ought to be possible to get two principal components out of the aggregate scores. With the unavailable raw data, it would then be possible to work out which questions are doing the work.

    I’m interested in this because it looks like the Mann-McIntyre-McKitrick fuss may turn on principal components issues and it would be nice to have an illustration of it that people can understand. I should add that I have very little experience with principal components and couldn’t, for example, describe the difference between principal components and factor analysis.

  14. #14 Ross M Karchner
    November 5, 2003

    a proposal for Political Compass Metadata

  15. #15 Magpie
    November 5, 2003

    one really has to remember to put the minus signs in front of the numbers. i accidentally put myself way up in the upper right corner, exactly the opposite of where magpie really is.

    with my attention to deatil, it figures that i make a living writing instructions for other people, doesn’t it?

  16. #16 ThinkTank
    November 5, 2003

    liberal libertarian, wow. anybody got higher scores than that?

  17. #17 Carl H.
    November 5, 2003

    (+)2.00, -.92

  18. #18 Anton Sherwood
    November 5, 2003

    I suspect that if the questions contained less `progressive’ cant (or parodies of `conservative’ cant) I’d score further to the left.

  19. #19 Glutter
    November 5, 2003

    Nice to know although in real life my politics are can dangle dangerously close to to extreme even to my friends, in the blogsphere I have plenty of company.

  20. #20 David Farrar
    November 5, 2003

    Hmmn it isn’t showing where I am plotted – I think because economic was a +10.00 and only goes to 9.99 [Oops, now fixed TL]

  21. #21 Hardy Machia
    November 5, 2003

    I find that the World’s Smallest Political Quiz by the Advocates for Self-Government is much more straight forward.

  22. #22 coolmel
    November 5, 2003

    i took the test and i almost hit Gandhi’s head. i’m not sure how reliable this test is but it’s way up there on the entertainment scale. thanks for putting this together.

  23. Sorry, I originally used the new test result of Leftist Pragmatist.
    Axis Position (normalized)
    1 left/right -5.9884 (-0.3605)
    2 pragmatism +2.4943 (+0.1501)
    I’m putting in the Political Compass Results and seeing what happens.

    Your political compass
    Economic Left/Right: -5.62
    Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.79

    Another result – Your Personal Self-Government Score is 100%.
    Your Economic Self-Government Score is 40%.

  24. #24 Zhengming (Jimmy Ho)
    November 5, 2003

    Following a suggestion by Ampersand, I just added myself to Deltoid’s table of bloggers results to the Political Compass test. No real surprise, except that I seem to be more “Libertarian” than Amp himself. I guess I reversed something while taking the survey.

  25. #25 Marie- Adelaide
    November 5, 2003

    I agree, there is justification for a 2-D model.

    The political compass test was great! I guess it my results mean that I’m economically moderate but socially conservative, as I suspected…

    Economic Left/Right: 0.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 4.67

  26. #26 Milo Thurston
    February 7, 2004

    I don’t much care for being labelled as an authoritarian. Presumably I have interpreted the questions in a way that the author did not intend?

  27. #27 Tolstoy - Anarchist
    February 16, 2004

    Economic Left/Right: -4.25
    Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.05
    I believe that there is a huge diference between socialism( more equality between rich and poor or simply just higher well-fare for them) and planed economy.Vice-versa. Did Stalin create a more equal society in his planed economy?

  28. #28 Tolstoy - Anarchist
    February 16, 2004

    Economic Left/Right: -4.25
    Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.05
    I believe that there is a huge diference between socialism( more equality between rich and poor or simply just higher well-fare for them) and planed economy.Vice-versa. Did Stalin create a more equal society in his planed economy?

  29. #29 Liberty Corner
    March 27, 2004

    This fairly large sample suggests that the blogosphere is dominated by “left libertarians” (the ultimate oxymoron), that is, by social liberals who favor government intervention in the economy. Get it straight folks: Liberty is incompatible with government intervention in the economy.

  30. #30 TealVeal
    March 30, 2004

    Liberty is incompatible with goverment meddling in the economy?

    Child labor.

  31. #31 Liberty Corner
    July 22, 2004

    TealVeal says, in reply to my comment, “Liberty is incompatible with goverment meddling in the economy? Child labor.” Forced child labor is coercion, not liberty. Voluntary child labor shouldn’t be discouraged by government. After all, if kids can post anti-war signs in school they should be allowed to do whatever they want to do, right? Oh, their parents might not want them to work or post anti-war signs. Too bad, the state knows best.

  32. #32 Cakon
    October 14, 2010

    I consider myself a conservative on economic issues yet more liberal on social issue. On the compass I ended up in the green area while I was expecting to get purple. I feel this is largely due to the fact that the test included more social issues than it did technical economics or policy issues.

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