What Does Your Political Affiliation Actually Say About You?

Whatever your political alignment may be, chances are you didn’t pick it from a hat. 

Like any other label you choose to adopt, your political views are deeply entrenched in your identities and experiences. They likely reveal something beyond your voting patterns or stance on divisive social issues—and they almost certainly influence the way you interact with yourself and others.

That being said, how are students’ political affiliations actually reflected in their behaviors, values, and decision-making? In other words, what does it really mean to be a Communist? A Socialist? A Republican?

If you’re looking for answers, you’ve come to the right place. Our relationship scientists have identified 49 major values assessed in the Marriage Pact questionnaire, ranging from personality traits (e.g. sociability, perfectionism) to romantic tendencies (e.g. sociosexuality, attachment anxiety) to basic values (e.g ambition, image-consciousness).

Every Marriage Pact survey question is positively or negatively correlated with at least one of these values. For example, someone who selects a 7 (strongly agree) for the question “Expensive dates would be more fun” would score higher on materialism and desire for adventure

For the six major political affiliations at Stanford, UMich, and UVA, we calculated their scores for all 49 values using their average responses to the Marriage Pact surveys from 2022. What resulted is a data-backed profile for every political affiliation. Check them out below. 


Highest scores: Independence, Desire for Adventure, Sociosexuality, Tolerance of Unconventionality

Lowest scores: Traditionalism, Image-Consciousness, Conformity to Rules

One thing’s for certain: Communist students are not traditionalists (shocker, I know). Students who identify as Communist tend to be bold, free-thinking boundary pushers who are exceedingly open to new experiences and ideas. In addition to extreme social liberalism, this might manifest as an acceptance of hard drug use, a tendency for sexual experimentation, or fluidity in their romantic relationships.  Communist students are not afraid to take the road less traveled—and they most certainly do not care what you think. 


Highest scores:  Sentimentality, Altruism, Desire for Support

Lowest scores: Interpersonal Dominance, Self-Confidence, Assertiveness, Ambition, Resilience

Socialist students carry a double-edged sword—while they are highly perceptive to injustice, they also tend to be particularly affected by hardship. Highly compassionate and emotionally driven, Socialists have a heart for service, and would probably be aligned with Communist students on almost every social issue. Unlike their Communist counterparts, however, Socialist students are less domineering, tend to doubt themselves more frequently, and rely heavily on their interpersonal relationships for support. 


Highest scores:  Cooperation, Patience, Gentleness

Lowest scores: Interpersonal Dominance, Power play, Spirituality, Assertiveness

Let’s just say that Democrats aren’t known for their hot takes. They’d probably be best described as the mediators of the political spectrum—level-headed, self-effacing peacekeepers who strive to avoid conflict. Like Socialists, Democrats lead with kindness and compassion, and they’re also less assertive than other students when it comes to their interpersonal (and sexual) relationships. Their low scores on spirituality also demonstrate their particular ambivalence when it comes to religion. 


Top values: Traditionalism, Conformity to Rules, Health attitudes

Bottom values: Desire for Adventure, Sociosexuality, Tolerance of Unconventionality, Creativity, Hedonism

Independent students probably have the highest levels of restraint of any political affiliation. Despite falling right in the middle of the political spectrum, students who identify as Independent tend to hold more socially conservative views, as evidenced by their high levels of traditionalism. They’re also less open-minded, adventurous, and self-indulgent than their peers—you probably won’t catch them thinking outside the box (or deviating from their workout routine). 


Top values: Interpersonal dominance, Ambition, Materialism, Self-Confidence, Energy

Bottom values: Attachment anxiety, Cooperation, Emotional Expressivity, Nurturance

We’re not biased when we say that Libertarians are probably the least personable of the bunch. They’ve got their strengths, of course: Libertarian students certainly know what they want and how to make it happen. While extremely self-confident and assertive, Libertarians can also be emotionally repressed or reclusive at times. In many ways, they’re the opposite of Socialists and Democrats—domineering, decisive, and not particularly concerned with maintaining interpersonal harmony. 


Top values: Traditionalism, Conformity to Rules, Image Consciousness, Familial Unity

Bottom values: Altruism, Sentimentality, Desire for Adventure, Tolerance of Unconventionality

As expected, students who vote red probably hold the most socially conservative views of the bunch. Republicans tend to be family-oriented, steadfast traditionalists who rarely stray from the beaten path. Interestingly, Republicans are among the more image-conscious of their peers, perhaps concerned with adhering to conventional societal roles. While Republicans might not be the most generous or open-minded of the bunch, we’d be lying if we said they weren’t fiercely loyal. 

It goes without saying that these portrayals aren’t catch-alls. A student’s political affiliation is just one small piece of their collective identity, and it can’t possibly tell a comprehensive story about their experiences, personality, or worldview. 

Nonetheless, these descriptions may hold small kernels of truth about the values and priorities that typically accompany each political ideology. Even if these descriptions don’t hold true for you, we hope this at least gives you some food for thought. Stay tuned for further deep dives into the relationships between student’s identities and core values.