Reassessing the Effects of Personality on Political Attitudes and Behaviors: Aggregate Relationships and Subgroup Differences

48 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2009

See all articles by Alan Gerber

Alan Gerber

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

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science

David Doherty

Yale University

Conor Dowling

Yale University

Date Written: February 25, 2009

Abstract

Previous research has implicitly assumed a direct relationship between personality and political attitudes and behaviors. Yet, there are theoretical reasons to suspect that these relationships vary depending on one’s social context and identity—a suspicion that is strongly confirmed by our results. In this study we leverage the power of an unusually large national survey of registered voters to examine how the relationships between personality and political attitudes and behaviors differ across gender and racial subgroups. We find overwhelming evidence that how personality affects political attitudes and behaviors differs across subgroups. The statistical power provided by this large dataset also allows us to both validate and challenge findings from previous work. Although our primary contribution is empirical, we also demonstrate how this evidence can be used to generate and refine hypotheses regarding the mechanisms whereby personality traits affect politics.

Keywords: personality, Big Five, political behavior, ideology, partisanship

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Huber, Gregory and Doherty, David and Dowling, Conor, Reassessing the Effects of Personality on Political Attitudes and Behaviors: Aggregate Relationships and Subgroup Differences (February 25, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1412839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1412839

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

David Doherty

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Conor Dowling

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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