Conceptualizing Political Orientation in Canadian Political Candidates: A Tale of Two (Correlated) Dimensions

By Choma, Becky L.; Ashton, Michael C. et al. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Conceptualizing Political Orientation in Canadian Political Candidates: A Tale of Two (Correlated) Dimensions


Choma, Becky L., Ashton, Michael C., Hafer, Carolyn L., Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Political orientation is often operationalized as a unidimensional left-right continuum. However, some research suggests that this conceptualization might be overly simplistic. The present study examined the structure of political orientation in a sample of 190 politicians who were candidates in the 2006 Canadian federal election. Participants completed measures of attitudes toward specific political issues (social conservatism issues, economic competition issues), ideological beliefs (right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation), and abstract values (conservation, self-enhancement) as indicators of political orientation. Confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated that the structure of political orientation was explained best by 2 moderately correlated dimensions: social left-right and economic left-right. Differences in the political orientation indicators between political parties are also discussed.

Keywords: political ideology, values, political attitudes, right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation

The political orientations of individuals and of parties are frequently described in terms of the well-known left-versus-right continuum (e.g., Jost, 2006; Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003a, 2003b; see also Knight, 1999). This left-right spectrum has been described as "the single most useful and parsimonious way to classify political attitudes for more than 200 years" (Jost, 2006, p. 654). In the United States, for example, self-placement on the left-right, or liberal- conservative, axis has consistently been strongly related to voting behaviour in national elections (Jost, 2006). This same dimension has also been found to be applicable in many other countries including Canada (Jost et al., 2003b). Moreover, this axis has shown a consistent pattern of correlations with a diverse array of psychological variables, including perceptions of mortality salience, perceptions of instability or threat to the social system, uncertainty avoidance, and openness to experience (see Jost et al., 2003b). In short, the left-right spectrum is particularly useful in measuring what Jost and his colleagues refer to as "core" political ideology, or the aspects of political ideology that are replicated across time and place. Despite the consistent ability of the left-right continuum to predict various criteria, however, there are several reasons to believe that the structure of political orientation is more complex than this single dimension, at least within certain samples. In the present study, we investigate the structure of political orientation in a novel sample - a group of political candidates running in the 2006 Canadian federal election. Our expectation is that political orientation amongst these individuals is best represented by a more complex structure than the ubiquitous left-right continuum.

Two Dimensions Associated With the Left-Right Spectrum

Notwithstanding the familiarity and the utility of the single left-right continuum, there is much evidence that this vector is itself a compound of two constructs. For example, Jost and his colleagues (Jost et al., 2003a; 2003b; Jost et al., 2007) have contended that political conservatism comprises two core components: resistance to change and acceptance of inequality. The view of the political spectrum as representing a blend of two underlying factors has a long history in political psychology research. To investigate the structure of political orientation in the present sample, we administered measures of the two dimensions that have been observed in three domains: attitudes toward specific issues, ideological beliefs, and social values. We describe each of these domains in this article.

Ferguson (1939) assessed attitudes toward specific political issues in the United States and reported two factors, which he called religiosity and humanitarianism. Later, Eysenck (1954) similarly found two orthogonal factors of conservatism (vs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conceptualizing Political Orientation in Canadian Political Candidates: A Tale of Two (Correlated) Dimensions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.