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Academic discipline and the sociopolitical values of university students

Hastie, B. (2003) Academic discipline and the sociopolitical values of university students. In: 38th Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society, 2-5 October 2003, Sheraton Hotel, Perth, Western Australia.

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There has been a debate in psychology and related disciplines over whether the reliable differences that have been found in the sociopolitical values of students in different disciplines are due to self-selection or to socialisation within the discipline. This study involved the completion of a specifically designed questionnaire by 223 Murdoch University students. The main focus was the social sciences (n = 108) and commerce (n = 59) because past research had indicated that these two areas are the most differentiated in terms of their ideological beliefs. Results indicate that social science students were more left and liberal in their values and preferred particular ‘liberal’ social groups to more ‘conservative’ ones. They endorsed systemic over individualistic explanations for poverty. The reverse was found for commerce students, who were more right-wing and conservative. They preferred conservative groups and favoured individualistic explanations for poverty and wealth. No differences were found between year-groups; hence the self-selection hypothesis was supported. There were a few problems with this exploratory study, most notably the uneven numbers of students from each yeargroup and discipline. A second study is now underway which uses an improved questionnaire and aims to attain even cell numbers.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: Australian Psychological Society
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