Do you see a square? Research says this simple test can predict your political beliefs

What do you see?
What do you see?
Image: Image by Quartz
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Your idea of a perfect square may predict your support for same-sex marriage, says a new study.

Research published in Nov. 2015 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that what people think constitutes a shape correlates to their political leanings.

In a series of studies involving 2100 US adults, psychologists from the University of Queensland and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School asked participants to rate perfect and imperfect shapes on a scale of triangle-ness, circle-ness, square-ness. In some experiments the researchers showed shapes with dents or lines missing, while other studies had lumpy or oddly stretched shapes.

Researchers also collected information about participants’ political beliefs, asking them to report on how liberal or conservative they are. They asked participants questions about how severely criminals should be punished, whether homeless people should receive public aid, and how they felt about both.

The team found that participants who self-identify as conservative were also less forgiving of non-perfect shapes. They were more likely to punish criminals and be more morally outraged by them. Participants who were more sensitive to imperfect shapes were significantly less likely to want to provide aid to the homeless, unemployed, and uninsured sick.

Corresponding author Tyler Okimoto writes in an email to Quartz, “We believe this reflects a general tendency for conservatives to judge deviant targets as ‘different from the norm’ compared to liberals, be they criminal offenders, recreational drug users, the homeless, same-sex couples… or even geometric figures. And as a result, conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe these groups should face harsher punishment or less aid.”