political attitudesthe relatively persistent psychological orientations and beliefs held to underpin political opinions and voting behaviour (see also ATTITUDE, ATTITUDE SCALE AND ATTITUDE MEASUREMENT).
Significant dimensions of political attitudes which researchers have sought to measure include:
- conceptions of‘political efficacy’ (Budge, 1976), ‘support for democracy’ (e.g. Prothro and Grigg, 1960), levels of ‘political tolerance’ (Stouffer, 1955), ‘authoritarianism’ (see F-SCALE), ‘protest potential’ (Marsh, 1977), ‘post-industrial attitudes’ (Inglehart, 1977), etc.;
- the overall left-right organization of political beliefs (e.g. measures of ‘Conservatism’) (see also LEFT-RIGHT CONTINUUM).
There is little acceptance that such scales have been successful in establishing the existence of stable dimensions to political attitudes (see Robinson et al., 1968). As suggested by Form and Rytinna (1969) and Mann (1970), major problems can arise in the interpretation of‘attitudinal measures’, and it is not clear that these possess major advantages over the more informal indicators of attitudes used in political sociology