Personality Traits and the Dimensions of Political Ideology

34 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2009  

Alan Gerber

Yale University - Department of Political Science; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Shang E. Ha

Brooklyn College - CUNY

Conor Dowling

Yale University

David Doherty

Yale University

Date Written: March 31, 2009

Abstract

We use three large N nationally representative surveys to investigate the relationships between the Five Factor Model personality traits and political ideology. Prior examinations of the relationships between personality traits and political ideology have yielded mixed results. Numerous studies have shown that ideology is associated with the personality traits Openness and Conscientiousness, but the relationships between the other three personality traits (Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Emotional Stability) and ideology are weak and inconsistent across samples. We find that the failure to link these traits to political ideology is an artifact of the coarse measurement of political ideology used in prior work. Once ideology is decomposed into social and economic dimensions there is a strong association between economic attitudes and Agreeableness and Emotional Stability. Our finding that four of the five personality domains are strongly linked to political ideology implies that the role of personality in political attitudes may be substantially stronger and more general than suggested by previous research.

Keywords: personality, Big Five, ideology, social conservatism, economic conservatism

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Huber, Gregory and Ha, Shang E. and Dowling, Conor and Doherty, David, Personality Traits and the Dimensions of Political Ideology (March 31, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1412863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1412863

Alan Gerber (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5232 (Phone)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Shang E. Ha

Brooklyn College - CUNY ( email )

2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
United States

Conor Dowling

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

David Doherty

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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