Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Major Professor

Dan Nimmo

Committee Members

Thomas D. Lings, Annett A. Elliot


The field of political psychology focuses on specific political behavior as it relates to a total measure of the individual. This research effort chose as a possible summation of that totality the value system, defined as any individual's description of his total image of the world and the behavior which he prefers in dealing with that world. Within this perspective, political attitudes are the result of the expression of a broad and abstract value system with reference to a specific attitude object.

The research design utilized Q methodology to gather empirical descriptions of values systems toward a political issue, i.e., welfare in the United States, from a sample of college students chosen to represent different fields of study. Q factor analysis of the results of a Q sort of values and a Q sort of welfare attitudes revealed types of persons with similar value systems and types of persons with similar welfare attitudes. The relationships between the two then were examined.

The results confirmed, to a degree, the expected projection of value systems into specific attitudes. The attitudinal structures of individuals could be explained in part by reference to value systems which were associated with each attitude. Q methodology proved to be a useful approach to the measurement of the subjective nature of values and attitudes, despite the unavoidable shortcomings of the research design. Finally, the results provided a basis for the discussion of the general nature of value systems and their implications for American politics.

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