Sociopolitical Values and Integrative Complexity of Members of Student Political Groups

Article excerpt

Abstract

Members of University affiliates of the four major B.C. parties were assessed fo r responsibility ascription, authoritarianism, humanistic vs. normative polarity, value conflict between equality and freedom, and integrative complexity in writing about value conflict. The ND P group, more than Liberal, Progressive Conservative, and Social Credit supporters, attributed responsibility to diffuse, global factors (not individuals or traditional authorities) and subs cribed to humanistic rather than normative evaluative schemata. They scored lowest on authoritariani sm and highest on the importance of Equality as a social value. Differences among the other th ree groups were less consistent. High value conflict between Freedom and Equality was associated with higher integrative complexity in writing about the two values, and members of the two " pragmatic" parties (Liberal and PC) wrote more complex essays than the two "ideological" gr oups (NDP and Socred). The findings are relevant to theoretical propositions concerning t he attitudes and cognitions associated with differing political ideologies and with the dynamics of B.C. politics.

Resume

Les membres de groupes universitaires affilies aux quatre principaux partis poli tiques en Colombie - Britannique ont ete soumis a une evaluation concernant l'attribution de la responsabilite, l'autoritarisme, la polarite humaniste par opposition a norma tive, le conflit des valeurs entre egalite et liberte et, enfin, la complexite integrativ e dans un essai sur le conflit des valeurs. Le groupe du NPD, plus que les partisans d es Liberaux, des Conservateurs et du Credit social, attribuait la responsabilite a des facteu rs indirects et generaux (non pas aux personnes ou aux autorites traditionnelles) et adherait a des schemes humanistes pluto@t que normatifs. Il a obtenu moins de points pour l'autoritarisme et plus de points pour l'importance de l'egalite comme valeur so ciale. Les differences entre les trois autres groupes etaient moins coherentes. Un importa nt conflit des valeurs entre liberte et egalite etait associe a une complexite integrative plus elevee dans l'essai sur les deux valeurs; les membres des deux partis pragmatiques (PL et PC) ont redige des essais plus complexes que ceux des deux g roupes ideologiques (NPD et Credit social). Les conclusions cadrent avec les propositi ons theoriques au sujet des attitudes et des cognitions reliees aux differentes ideo logies politiques et a la dynamique de la politique en Colombie - Britannique.

Explanations of political ideology and party adherence have invoked economic int erest, class and ethnic background, cultural tradition, and similar variables. Political psychol ogists have emphasized intra - individual characteristics, such as the person's value system , that may covary with political orientation. In this context, a value can be defined as "prefere ntial standards ... used in making selections of objects and actions, resolving conflicts, invoking social sanctions, and coping with needs or claims for social and psychological defenses of choices made or proposed. Values are components in the guidance of anticipatory and goal - dire cted behavior; but they are also backward - looking in their frequent service to justify or 'ex plain' past conduct" (Williams, 1979, p. 20).

The broad contours of the political landscape play a significant interactiv e role. One can affiliate only with available parties and orientations. By doing so, individual s lend support to some parties, movements, and orientations more than to others. As a result, som e positions become popular or mainstream while others become peripheral. This distribution i n turn affects the affiliations of individuals who seek support in expressing and advancing the ir own values (Noelle - Neumann, 1984). In several parts of this report, we will discuss some of the features of B.C. political culture and institutional arrangements that facilitate certain political choices (Blake, 1985). …