Everett J.A.C. (2013) The 12 Item Social and Economic Conservatism Scale (SECS). PLoS ONE 8(12): e82131



Recent years have seen a surge in psychological research on the relationship between political ideology (particularly conservatism) and cognition, affect, behaviour, and even biology. Despite this flurry of investigation, however, there is as yet no accepted, validated, and widely used multi-item scale of conservatism that is concise, that is modern in its conceptualisation, and that includes both social and economic conservatism subscales. In this paper the 12-Item Social and Economic Conservatism Scale (SECS) is proposed and validated to help fill this gap. The SECS is suggested to be an important and useful tool for researchers working in political psychology.


“Please indicate the extent to which you feel positive or negative towards each issue. Scores of 0 indicate greater negativity, and scores of 100 indicate greater positivity. Scores of 50 indicate that you feel neutral about the issue.”

  1. Abortion (reverse scored). (S)
  2. Limited government. (E)
  3. Military and national security. (S)
  4. Religion. (S)
  5. Welfare benefits (reverse scored). (E)
  6. Gun ownership. (E)
  7. Traditional marriage. (S)
  8. Traditional values. (S)
  9. Fiscal responsibility. (E)
  10. Business. (E)
  11. The family unit. (S)
  12. Patriotism. (S)


Participants respond on a 0-100 scale, and scores can either be tied to intervals of 10 (0, 10, 20…100) or as a continuous measure. Economic and social conservatism items are indicated above in parentheses by an E or S respectively. Reverse code items 1 and 5 (“Abortion” and “Welfare Benefits”), and then create overall mean scores (or for the two subscales separately). Once mean scores are computed, mean values for participants will vary from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating greater political conservatism.