Courtesy of Ben Ambridge,, December 6, 2015


Here’s a simple question that can tell us an awful lot about you. Is this a circle?

If you said: “Yeah, sure, close enough,” then you are probably politically liberal, and strongly support the idea of government aid for the homeless and unemployed. You are also likely to support same-sex marriage and legalisation of marijuana for recreational use.

If you said: “No, of course not,” then you are probably politically conservative, and strongly support the idea of protecting the rights of business owners and having a strong military. You are likely to take a particularly dim view of illegal immigration, and would come down strongly on even relatively low-level crime, such as drug use and prostitution.

Although this sounds like some sort of satire, these were – broadly speaking – the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People who are tolerant of deviance from the norm when judging a circle (or triangle, square, rectangle or ellipse) are tolerant of deviant or otherwise marginalised groups in society. In fact, they’re not just tolerant of these groups, they actively want to help them. So if you meet someone new and don’t know how to broach the subject of their political orientation, just show them a “circle”.

Psy-Q by Ben Ambridge is published by Profile Books at £8.99.

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