February 2008 Poll - Discussion

Type and Need for Closure

The February 2008 Poll also contained a set of questions related to the psychological trait "Need for Closure." We selected these items from the American National Elections Studies 2006 Pilot Study for two reasons. First, the Need for Closure construct has significant interest for researchers in political psychology. Second, the trait appears related to other traits such as dogmatism, flexibility and complexity that have been found to correlated with type preferences, particularly the S-N and J-P preferences (see the Validity chapter of the 1985 MBTI Manual).

Prior to examining the relationship between type preferences and the need for closure scale, we first assessed the construct validity of the scale by performing a factor analysis. Results for this analysis suggested the scale was not unidimensional and that only one or two items seemed to clearly indicate the meaning of the two factors that emerged. We checked whether or not these results were limited only to the February 2008 Poll sample by conducting a similar factor analysis of the ANES data downloaded from their website. Results of this analysis were quite similar to the results for the February 2008 Poll sample. The researchers who proposed the original items also have commented similarly about the lack of unidimensionality (and provide a rationale for the use of the items. For more information, see their discussion in the pdf file here).

Given these results, we took an exploratory look at the relationship between type preferences (S-N and T-F) and the need for closure items by conducting a two-group discriminant analysis for each set of type preferences. Both analyses resulted in a significant canonical correlation. Moreover, in both analyses, the same three items contributed to discriminant results:

  • "Do you like unpredictable situations, dislike them, or neither like nor dislike them?"
  • "How disorganized are the rooms that you personally live and work in most?"
  • "Of the situations when you see two people disagreeing with one another, in how many of them can you see how both people could be right?"
As might be expected from type theory, Ns and Ps reported prefering unpredictable situations, disorganized rooms, and seeing both sides of a disagreement more so than did Ss and Js. It should be noted, however, that the results were stronger for the S-N preferences and the the first item (unpredictable situations) was the most influential item contributing to the disrimination between S-N and J-P preferences.
Although exploratory, these results do seem consistent with type theory and thus provide a rationale for continued exploration of the relationship between need for closure, type preferences, and political dynamics.


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