Do Political Quizzes Define You?

Do Political Quizzes Define You?


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Mike Kauffmann
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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As political tensions rise, more and more people are allowing their friends and family to define their political beliefs. And, they’re allowing so-called political spectrum quizzes to determine how they politically identify themselves.

I checked out eight popular quizzes. They were all biased. After all, they’re written by humans and all humans are biased. With some more biased than others, I tried to figure out why and came to the conclusion that the quiz makers were handling their bias in one of three ways.

First, there were the quizzes that didn’t seem to think that their bias had an adverse impact so they didn’t try to correct for it.

For example, The Political Spectrum quiz emphasizes a two sides view of the world and I have always been a third side person.

The test suggested, “People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality“. Since I believe the concept of class is anachronistic, is my only choice nationality?

But since I live in a nation with numerous cultures, many of which have anything to do with nationality, that’s not a good choice either. How do I take a political quiz that disregards my political views? The results of this test could never possibly reflect my take on things.

Second, there were quizzes that you could tell tried to sift as much of the bias out of their questions as possible. In ISideWith, for “(Q) Should the military allow women to serve in combat roles?” you have all of the following possible answers:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, as long as they can pass the same physical tests as men
  • Yes, preventing women from serving in combat roles is discriminatory
  • No, women are not as physically capable as men for combat
  • No, combat roles place women in a high-risk situation for sexual assault
  • No, men are more likely to risk the success of a mission in order to protect women from danger
  • Read more stances submitted by users
  • Add your own stance
  • This question is no longer relevant and should be removed

Note that this is still basically a yes/no answer. Even though it’s a two-sided type question, they give you the opportunity to find common ground with the answers.

Third, there were quizzes that tried to account for their biases by looking at politics from numerous angles. For example, in each topic, the Polquiz provides a scenario and then offers three different ways of looking at that scenario.

“(Q) In some institutions, groups or professions, there is a disparity between the number of men and women, or between different races or social groups

Your choices are:

  • Quota obligations are the best instrument to remedy historical situations of discrimination.
  • Integration subsidies or tax benefits to underrepresented groups are the best instruments to address discrimination.
  • Any imposition or benefit based on criteria of sex, race or social group, violates the principle of equality before the law, and should not be imposed by the Government.

Here are the quizzes I took in the order that my particular bias organized them starting with the least biased. Please note that the first two were practically tied for being least biased with the third coming in very close behind.

Don’t go thinking that taking that first quiz right off the top of the list is all you need to do to figure out your politics. I recommend taking at least the first four and if you really want to go in depth take them all. Remember, even the best tests are biased. Several points of view would be much more helpful.

And that’s not all. If you let them, these tests will define you. That’s not what you need. These quizzes are tools that can give you the basis for more self-exploration. For instance, the following graphic is from iSideWith:

I’m represented by the blue circle with a star in it near the upper right-hand corner. Based on this I’m somewhat right-wing and significantly libertarian. Now let’s look at the graphic from Polquiz:

I’m the target near the top. This identifies me as barely right of center and extremely libertarian. If you read my bio then you know this is exactly how I describe myself. Even though I believe iSideWith is less biased, I feel that polquiz did a better job of identifying my politics. Of course, that could be my bias talking.

This is an important lesson. None of these tests is perfect. Letting someone else’s biases define you will not serve you well. In the end, you need to define yourself.

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