Through Baal on Twitter I found this “Political Compass” survey. I took it, and it said this is my “political compass”.

Now, I’m not happy with the result. I mean, I’m okay with the average value where the red dot has been put for me, and I think that represents my political leanings rather well. However, what I’m unhappy about is that my political views have been all reduced to one single average point.

I’m pretty sure that based on all the answers I gave in the survey, my political leaning across both the two directions follows a distribution, and the red dot here is only the average (mean, I guess, but could also be median) value of that distribution.

However, there are many ways in which people can have a political view that lands right on my dot – some people might have a consistent but mild political view in favour of or against a particular position. Others might have pretty extreme views – for example, some of my answers might lead you to believe that I’m an extreme right winger, and others might make me look like a Marxist (I believe I have a pretty high variance on both axes around my average value).

So what I would have liked instead from the political compass was a sort of heat map, or at least two marginal distributions, showing how I’m distributed along the two axes, rather than all my views being reduced to one average value.

A version of this is the main argument of this book I read recently called “The End Of Average“. That when we design for “the average man” or “the average customer”, and do so across several dimensions,  we end up designing for nobody, since nobody is average when looked at on many dimensions.

2 thoughts on “Distribution of political values”

  1. I’ve seen this graph in a few posts recently, now I know why… must be trending on social media.
    My issue with this graph is not just with mean Vs distribution. It’s also that left and right have been expanded from their economic-orientation to also include social orientation. While there could be many axes, at the very least left and right should be split into the economic left/right add social conservatives/liberals. While those two groups tend to vote in the same direction in many situations, a lot of political success stories are based on bridging one of the two gaps. Tony Blair brought new labor to power by moving to the center on economy while staying to the left on social issues. Cameron-Osborne government was a result of moving to the center on social issues while staying to the right on economy. Boris has straddled the divide too. Even in India, the right wing party, BJP, is only on the right on social issues. On economic issues they are pretty much on the left.

  2. Read this in the Economist today:

    At its simplest, his version of one-nation Conservatism means an amalgam of left-wing policies on economics and right-wing policies on culture—the exact reverse of Mr Cameron’s approach.

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