In the United States, some people are conservative Republicans, others are liberal Democrats and many fall in between or outside the two. These differences in political opinion are called political attitudes, and they're shaped by a variety of factors. The same elements that form one's personality -- gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, regional identity and others -- also help form their political attitude.

A Spectrum of Opinions

Political attitudes in the United States fall on a spectrum between extremely liberal and extremely conservative. Broadly speaking, this spectrum characterizes what someone believes about social issues and government's role in society.

Over recent years, liberals, who are most likely to be in the Northeast and the West Coast, have generally believed government should play a more active role in supporting the economy and be less involved in foreign affairs. Conservatives, who tend to live in America's middle and southern regions, tend to believe the economy needs less government assistance and are more hawkish on foreign policy. On social issues, liberals tend to support non-traditional changes, like allowing same-sex marriage, while conservatives favor maintaining tradition and are more likely to cite Christianity as an influence on their views. Why someone has one attitude or the other -- or, just as often, something in between -- is a product of a lifetime of experiences.