Measuring Neoliberalism: Development and Initial Validation of a Scale of Anti-Neoliberal Attitudes

  • Patrick R. GrzankaEmail author
  • Joseph R. Miles
  • Elliot S. Spengler
  • James E. ArnettIII
  • Jessica Pruett


Critics of neoliberalism argue that so-called meritocratic and identity-neutral social policies and political positions actually reinforce and exacerbate intersecting inequalities, namely racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and ethnocentrism/xenophobia. The purpose of these studies was to develop and initially validate a scale of neoliberal attitudes from a wide range of existing instruments that reflect anti-neoliberal theory. A series of three studies resulted in a 25-item instrument—the Anti-Neoliberal Attitudes Scale (ANAS)—that exhibits initial evidence of construct validity, internal consistency, and test–retest reliability. Exploratory factor analysis with students from two universities revealed a four-factor structure of Racism and Sexism Awareness, Communitarian Values, Multicultural Ideology, and Inequality Consciousness. However, a confirmatory factor analysis with an independent sample of undergraduate students suggests a bifactor model in which the general factor explains most of the variance and that the instrument should be treated as a single scale, rather than independent subscales. Significant correlations with measures of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation suggest convergent validity. Temporal stability was established via a test–retest analysis in an independent sample of undergraduate students. Finally, responses from a sample of MTurk workers provided evidence of the ANAS’s incremental validity when compared to an existing measure of neoliberal beliefs. Implications for future empirical work on the psychological dimensions of neoliberalism are discussed.


Attitudes Neoliberalism Multiculturalism Intersectionality Social justice 



This research was partially supported by a Sol and Esther Drescher Memorial Faculty Development Grant from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University and a Summer Graduate Research Assistantship from the Office of Research and Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We would like to thank Erin Whiteside, Ph.D., Christine Muller, Ph.D., Justin T. Maher, Ph.D., Emily S. Mann, Ph.D., Lisa B. Spanierman, Ph.D., Carlos Santos, Ph.D., Brent Mallinckrodt, Ph.D., Terence Tracey, Ph.D., and L. Christian Elledge, Ph.D. for their helpful feedback on this project, and acknowledge Jake Adler, Jennifer Blazer, and Daniela Recabarren for their assistance with data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Ethical Approval

All research reported herein that involves human subjects was reviewed and approved by the institutional review boards at Arizona State University and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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