Research on ideological attitudes has identified two main dimensions that refer to two fundamental features of group organization: social solidarity and social control. In response to prior research that has studied their relationship mainly from a correlational perspective, this paper introduces a social reality model based on psychological functionality of ideological attitudes. Social position variables (education, income and material vulnerability) and insecurity variables (fear of crime and distrust) are used to predict the interplay between ideological attitudes towards social solidarity and social control. Using K-means cluster analysis, a typology with four patterns of support for solidarity and control (‘socials’, ‘repressives’, ‘minimalists’ and ‘social-repressives’) was created, on the basis of representative survey data for the UK, France and Germany (N = 7034). Results from logistic regression analyses show that the proposed social reality model explains membership in typology categories, with similar results across the three countries. Overall, the model underscores the social origins of ideological attitudes as functional responses to perceived social reality. The paper illustrates how the social psychological study of ideological attitudes may be enriched by a typological approach that examines patterns of attitudes rather than single dimensions. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.