May 4, 2011

How We Identified Your Group

Identifying which group is the best fit for you involved matching the pattern of your answers to the political value questions and party affiliation to the responses of people who took the 2011 typology national survey. This entailed a two step process: first creating the typology groups for the survey and then identifying which typology group is the best fit for you.

Creating the Typology Groups in the Survey

We divided the national survey’s respondents into eight politically engaged groups, along with a ninth group of less engaged Bystanders. The assignment of individuals to one of the eight core typology groups is based primarily on their position on nine scales of social and political values – each of which is determined by responses to two or three survey questions – as well as their party identification. The typology groups are created using a statistical procedure called “cluster analysis” which accounts for respondents’ scores on all nine scales as well as party identification to sort them into relatively homogeneous groups.

Cluster analysis is not an exact process. Several different cluster solutions were evaluated for their effectiveness in producing cohesive groups that were sufficiently distinct from one another, large enough in size to be analytically practical, and substantively meaningful. While each solution differed somewhat from the others, all of them shared certain key features. The final solution selected to produce the political typology was judged to be strongest from a statistical point of view, most persuasive from a substantive point of view, and was representative of the general patterns seen across the various cluster solutions.

For more about how the typology is created see About the Typology.

Determining Which Group You Fit In

To match you up with a group, we used the national survey to determine how different patterns of responses to the values questions (and party affiliation) were associated with each of the typology groups in the survey. To do this, we used a technique known as logistic regression, which computes the strength of the association between a given set of questions and a particular outcome or result, in this case, membership in a given typology group. Separate logistic regressions were run for each of the eight typology groups to measure how each of the values scales and party affiliation were related to membership in the group. Although each respondent in the survey was assigned based on the cluster analysis, the regression procedure allows us to compute a probability of belonging to each group to assess the accuracy of the logistic regression procedure. Ideally, members of a given typology group in the survey should end up with a higher probability of belonging to their group than any other group. In fact, that was the case for about 90% of the survey’s respondents.

When you take the web quiz version of the survey, the same logistic regression procedure is used to compute your probability of membership in each typology group. These are compared with each other, and the group for which you have the highest probability of membership is the group to which you are assigned.

Most people, but not all, are good fits for their group. Some patterns of responses to the value questions and party affiliation just do not match up well with any of the groups. The procedure will assign everyone to the group that fits them best, even if they are not a very good fit with any of the groups. And some people may actually be good fits for more than one group, since some of the groups are quite similar in many of their views.

If you feel you do not fit well with the group you are assigned to, that does not mean there is anything wrong with your responses. Your set of values may just be unique! You may not fit well in any of the groups or you may share values with many of the groups.