Reassessing the Effects of Personality on Political Attitudes and Behaviors: Aggregate Relationships and Subgroup Differences
48 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2009
Date Written: February 25, 2009
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
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