The literary and cultural critiques were interesting, but I wanted to actually collect some real data (putting that sociology degree to some use, right?). So I ran an internet survey asking people their political preferences and monster preferences. It’s a convenience sample, mostly from the U.S. (This becomes important below.) If you’re not interested in the geeky stuff, skip down to the “discussion” section. Also, I’m relaunching the survey – please take five minutes or so to take the survey!
I tested for political preference in a number of ways. I asked respondents to identify what party they were registered with and which they identified with. These had a decent (and significant) correlation with each other (lambda(272)= 0.25; p=0.05). (Note to hard science people – a correlation of 0.25 is pretty decent for real-world observations in the social sciences, okay?) Likewise, the way someone identifies their political preference is somewhat predictive of party affiliation; at least for conservatives (lambda(268) = 0.174; p = 0.00) and liberals (lambda(268) = 0.18; p = 0.00). Moderates, however, had no significant relationship between identified preference and party affiliation (X^2 = 4.715, p=0.695). Reducing the attributes of “political party” to simply Republican, Democrat, and Other did not alter these in any meaningful way.
I also asked about attitudes toward social and economic issues.
With social issues, identifying as a conservative was predictive of attitudes (lambda(272) =0.135, p > 0.005), and likewise with liberals (lambda(272) =0.113, p=0.047). With economic issues, identifying as a conservative was predictive of attitudes (lambda(272) =0.236, p=0), and likewise with liberals (lambda(272) =0.315, p=0.0). Again, moderates had no significant correlation with their position towards social issues.
Determining position on economic issues identifying as a conservative was predictive of attitudes (lambda(272) =0.236, p=0) , as were liberals (lambda(272) =0.315, p=0.0), and moderates (lambda(272) =0.174, p=0.0).
There were significant – but somewhat weaker – relationship when social and economic issues were compared to registered and self-identified party. Correlating social issues by recoded party (lambda(268) =0.143, p=0) and considered party (lambda(267) =0.094, p=0.001); correlating economic issues by recoded party (lambda(268) =0.178, p=0) and considered party (lambda(267) =0.168, p=0.001)
All this indicates that indicated party registration is a predictor of political alignment, especially in the (at least surface) dual-party system in the US – but it does signify that the two-party system doesn’t necessarily fit the needs of people as much as the cons/lib/mod trinity (though it seems that moderate is shorthand for a catchall).
Because the relationships are stronger for self-identification as liberal/conservative/moderate, I chose to use that when examining for monster preferences.
I examined the relationship between identified political alignment and monster preference using the Pearson Correlation (also known as the Pearson Product Moment Correlation). I did not find many significant correlations; to try to find more correlations I also recoded political preference into a “agree”/”disagree” binary.
There were few significant correlations between political alignment and monster preferences. A weak significant negative correlation was found between how conservative someone identified and how much they liked vampires (other than Twilight) ( -0.245, p = 0 ), aliens (-0.124, p = 0.041), constructs (-0.135, p = 0.027), and werewolves (-0.157, p = 0.01). A weak positive correlation was found between how liberal someone identified as and liking vampires (other than Twilight) ( +0.165, p=0.04 ); the recoded preferences only added a significant positive correlation to aliens (+ 0.148, p=0.015). Moderates were all over the map, with no significant correlations; N=271 in all cases.
Those who liked monsters, however, liked all monsters. This was true across nearly all categories of monsters.
- I had a huge disparity in the percentage of liberal and conservative responses, which disappointed me somewhat.
- There were a lot of “monster” categories that I left out – some of the more common ones mentioned was the Cthulhu mythos, diakiju, and mythological and traditional monsters.
- There were many people complaining about the political classifications – but some said the categories were too broad, others that it was too narrow.
The biggest shortcoming was that I did not control for religion. Both faith tradition and strength of association with that religion was not asked about at all. I’m not sure if that would be a cause or an effect, but it wasn’t controlled for.
Politically, registration tended to follow basic two-party lines, though conservatives may have registered as independents or Republicans. When asked what party people identified with, the spread became quite a bit broader, with both liberals and conservatives identifying with parties other than the “big two” in the US. Moderates were all over the place; it almost seemed like “moderate” became a political catch-all. Because of this, I used self-identification as liberal, moderate, and conservative rather than party lines.
There were few significant correlations between political alignment and monster preferences. A weak significant correlation was found between how conservative someone identified and how much they liked vampires (other than Twilight), aliens, constructs, and werewolves. A weak positive correlation was found between how liberal someone identified as and liking vampires (other than Twilight) – and if I tortured the data a bit, aliens as well. Moderates were all over the map.
Graphing out all the correlations (even if nonsignificant) shows an interesting trend – liberals tended to like all types of monsters, and conservatives tended to not like all types of monsters. In line with that, liking one type of monster was a great predictor of liking all types of monsters. In fact, the association between liking vampires and liking zombies were pretty strongly positively correlated (0.506, p=0), blowing the original dichotomy between zombies and vampires out of the water.
Click the graphs to embiggen….
I’ve got a bit of a theory there. In general, conservatives tend to view the world as an inherently hostile place (à la Hobbes), where without control and a civilizing influence, people would descent into a violent anarchy. Likewise, liberals tend to view the world as a fundamentally peaceful (or at least, balanced) place, where mankind’s “natural state” is one where people live in a kind of harmony.
IF this model of thought is correct, then that makes a lot of things more understandable. If you generally feel safe, then feeling scared can become entertainment. If you generally think the world is a hostile place, then the last thing you want is to think about more things out to get you. Still, there’s a major shortcoming – as I mentioned, I didn’t ask about religion at all. So I’m relaunching the survey – if you’re in the United States, please click here to take the survey. It’s streamlined a bit, so it’s not quite the same as it was before.
Please share that url (http://bit.ly/monstersurvey ) with as many people as you can; the more responses, the better. Thanks!