I recently finished reading an intriguing article summing up social science research on political ideology. The direct link is here, but you can also access it by going to NYU Professor John Jost's webpage here and scrolling down until you find this item:
Jost, J.T., Federico, C.M. & Napier, J.L. (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 307-333.
The benefit of going to his page is that you can see the many other papers he's authored or co-authored on this and related subjects, including a number of more recent efforts. While this article was from 2009, I found it extremely useful as a recap and evaluation of the major research on political ideology. I had read news articles about some of these studies, but certainly not most of them. (It does cite Bob Altemeyer's useful book, The Authoritarians.) The bibliography is extensive if you're looking for further reading. The article is written for a professional journal versus for a lay person, so the authors take it for granted that certain terms are well understood, but I thought it was pretty readable for all that. While some of the findings are intuitive, it's always good to have actual research to confirm and quantify those notions, and challenging false conceptions is even more valuable.
Hat tip to bradjshannon for passing it on.