Measuring Political Attitudes
The measurement of political attitudes, something which lies within the purview of political psychology, is a subject that is fraught with difficulty. This measuring political attitudes research paper seeks to present a research proposal for a study that would do the following regarding political attitudes:
- Measure the degree of fit between political sophistication
- Measure the degree in which one is politically educated
- Predict if there is a high tolerance for political nonconformity
The research in question will not actually be performed. However, it is hoped that, by discussing the problems of conceptual framework and methodology that one encounters in trying to design such a piece of research, insight will be gained into the difficulties and pitfalls that attend such attempts to validly quantify items pertaining to the study of political psychology.
To begin with, there is already a measure of agreement among students of this subject that there is a positive correlation between educational attainment and a high degree of toleration for nonconformity Robinson, Rusk, and Head have stated, "Endorsement of civil liberties, freedom of speech... for unpopular groups. . . has been closely associated with education ". The editors of Measures of Political Attitudes have likewise noted a greater tolerance of diversity of behavior among the more highly educated.
But two things are to be noted with respect to this positive correlation between education level and tolerance. In the first place, these conclusions are quite general. The term "education" is well defined in one sense; it means, of course, educational attainment as measured by the grade level that the person being studied has attained. But it should be remembered that today's education is a very fragmented thing, fragmented in the sense that it produces specialists and not generalists.