Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Saklofske, Donald H.


Ideology is central to political psychology, but despite recent renewed interest in studying political ideology, its measurement is inconsistent. Ideology scales are numerous and heterogeneous in content. Further, there is disagreement on whether ideology is unidimensional multi-dimensional, and what the nature of these dimensions are. These inconsistencies limit the generalizability of conclusions made about ideology as it relates to political views and behaviour. There is a clear need for a conceptual model that is grounded in theory, and for a well-validated scale that organizes and quantifies ideology. Chapter 1 reviews the state of ideology measurement and identifies plausible dimensions supported by the literature. Chapter 2 involves the development of the new political ideology scale (NPIS) and two exploratory factor analyses (EFA) with samples of 426 postsecondary students and 239 Canadian adults, respectively, which explored the latent structure of the items. Chapter 3 involved three studies using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with samples of 484 (Time 1) and 388 (Time 2) Canadian adults, 522 postsecondary students, and 191 Canadian adults, respectively. These studies tested the fit of the refined item pool and established a three-factor structure of ideology comprising egalitarianism, traditionalism, and authoritarianism factors. Construct and criterion validity analyses were also conducted. The three factors were associated to varying degrees with personality traits; social dominance and right-wing authoritarianism; party affiliation and voting behaviour; support for normative and radical collective action; views on Canadian political policies; and perceptions of the COVID-19 virus, government response, and vaccination intentions. Chapter 4 involves a latent profile analysis (LPA) suggesting four patterns of scores, which were associated with different demographic features and views on collective action: a highly egalitarian, very anti-authoritarian and very progressive profile; an egalitarian, moderately authoritarian, and moderately progressive profile; a highly authoritarian, slightly anti-egalitarian, and highly traditional profile; and a very anti-egalitarian, moderately authoritarian, highly traditional profile. Chapter 5 involves an experimental study on persuasive messaging and ideology as it relates to COVID-19 vaccination intentions. The studies provide a foundation for a more cohesive study of ideology, and the scale has potential applications for any research requiring measurement of core political values.

Summary for Lay Audience

A person’s political orientation can be understood as a collection of interrelated attitudes towards how government and civil society should be organized. This network of beliefs, which can be called an ‘ideology’, is often thought to exist on a dimension of left- to right-wing, or from liberal-to-conservative. While these terms are among the most common identifiers for ideology, they are far from the only ones. Individuals may use a variety of other words to describe their political views, and many discrete policy positions cannot be easily placed on this spectrum. From a psychometric standpoint, there is also a clear need for a more nuanced model – a substantial number of political psychology researchers have found a singular dimension of ideology does not line up with their data. I reviewed the state of ideology measurement in contemporary political psychology as well as interdisciplinary research and hypothesized a handful of ideological value dimensions that might map on to individual’s political views. To investigate, I generated an extensive preliminary measure of 70 statements and conducted two exploratory factor analyses (EFAs), a statistical technique used to identify the structure underlying a set of items and to reduce the model to the best-fitting set of dimensions. After this, three confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) were conducted to test how well the hypothesized model mapped on to the data collected from three additional samples, which included 484 (at Time 1) and 388 (at Time 2) Canadian adults, 522 Canadian postsecondary students, and 191 Canadian adults. The new political ideology scale (NPIS) was found to have three dimensions: egalitarianism, traditionalism, and authoritarianism. I conducted additional analyses to provide further evidence for the structure and usefulness of the scale, including exploring its relationships with existing measures of political views, as well as conducting tests of its utility in predicting outcomes like party affiliation, voting behaviour, support for collective action, and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NPIS is intended to serve as a conceptual model as well as a testing instrument for any researchers seeking to study core political values, their predictors, and their consequences.