Thursday, April 13, 2006


The Political Objectives Test

I’ve been sent another of those questionnaires today, The Political Objectives Test, which scores over ‘Political Compass’ by, well, having fewer questions. It purports to balance your attraction to particular values: Liberty, Equality and Stability. Yes, it’s a political philosophy test, so how could I not be suckered into it?

That said, I’m not certain how the results stack up. I’ve been labelled Social-Liberal, which sounds fine, though I raise an eyebrow at being put “in the hazy area that exists between the Liberal and the Socialist” – particularly as my ‘Liberty’ score was far higher than the ‘Equality’ one. Join in, and test my hypothesis that it puts you into a ‘joint’ category if you gain a positive score for more than one attribute, whatever the gap between the actual scores is. I wonder if it’s possible to get a positive score on all through? Or if it’s possible to be a Liberal-Conservative at all? That sounds like a disturbed sort of bunny.

Still, the actual definition of Social-Liberal isn’t too objectionable, if slightly more tilted left than I’d choose:
Your commitment to both liberty and equality puts you in the hazy area that exists between the Liberal and the Socialist. You value liberty particularly in cultural and personal life. You also value government intervention to promote equity in economic life while still supporting private enterprise. For you liberty and equality are two parts of the same condition. Everyone has to be free to pursue their own way-of-life but in order for that it happen everyone must start with a similar basic standard of living.
I tried it twice, once filling out all the questions, and once omitting those where I didn’t feel a particular affinity for any of the options. I stayed consistent at 85 ‘Liberty’ and 21 ‘Stability’ for both, though my ‘Equality’ score varied between 57 and 64 (I suspect that, as usual, I’m less ideological on the economy).

I got 64 for equality, 78 for liberty and 35 for stability - also a Social-Liberal.
Another Social-Liberal with 64 Equality, 57 Liberty, and 35 Stability
64 Equality, 64 Liberty, 21 Stability. Also a Social Liberal. I feel quite sure that some people would probably agree with the idea that I'm in the hazy Liberal-Socialist grey area, though I don't really.
I'm just a liberal. I want to know why i avoided the social bit.
Interesting mix... Andy, I suspect a lot of us could agree with your feeling :-)

David, out of interest, what were your scores? Testing my hypothesis, was your 'Equality' 50 or lower?
Hello Alex

At the risk of looking egotistical I am posting to your blog as the author of that Political Objectives Test (I admit it - I did a Google Search for references to my own test).

To start with your criticisms are valid. I recognise that summarising social-liberalism as simply the bastard-child of liberalism and socialism is a bit dodgy. Technically I think it is a fully-fledged form of liberalism that has adapted in response to competition from socialism and that it subordinates equality to liberty. However my simplification works for my test and its overwhelmingly apolitical audience.

Another thing to note is that I am an Australian Democrat and I think we are more 'leftist' than the UK Lib Dems (whom we much admire nonetheless).

You are interested in how the test scores. Many of the labels in it accomodate a wide range of responses. In the case of a 'Social-Liberal' all you need to do is (a) have no more than 50% stability and (b) have liberty and equality scores of between 51% and 85%. That allows for a lot of variation of opinion but at the same time some kind of common ground.

If however your stability score rises to over 50% you then become a 'Moderate'. If only one of liberty or equality is between 51-85% and the others are 50% or less then you become a 'Liberal' or a 'Socialist' respectively. All the catagory descriptions can be accessed at my weblog:

I can go into how the scoring works more but describing it can be tiresome so I will only do so if requested.

Hi Daniel

Thanks for replying to a later post - it tipped me off to find this one!

Nothing egotistical about Googling yourself. Er, so I've heard.

Thanks for the explanations; I'd agree in part (and certainly more than with your published version). And an interesting home; I have to admit I don't know all that much about your party. Are you more to the socialist family, or in Liberal International? If so, you must feel even more isolated than we often do ;-)

And thanks for the scoring details. Makes a lot of sense.
The Australian Democrats have been invited to join the LI but have never done so. The stated reason is the cost of membership, but I also think that our traditional reluctance to attach ourselves to any other organisations, or even ideological labels, was also a factor.

As it is, we have conducted some 'unilateral' relations with LI members. This has taken a number of forms, the most prominent of which has been to get UK Lib Dems, and in one instance a member of the Netherlands Democraten-66, to be guest speakers at our national conferences.

The major parties here are members of internationals. The Australian Labor Party is a member of the Socialist International (along with UK Labour) while the Liberal Party of Australia is a member of the International Democratic Union (along with UK Conservatives).
Hello there. Just writing to say I have 'relaunched' the Political Objectives Test. The test is similar but background notes on a blog are new - see here:

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