Personality Traits and the Consumption of Political Information

American Politics Research, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 32-84, 2011

Posted: 7 Jan 2011

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: January 4, 2011

Abstract

In this article, we examine the relationship between dispositional personality traits (the Big Five) and the consumption of political information. We present detailed hypotheses about the characteristics of the political environment that are likely to affect the appeal of politics and political information in general for individuals with different personalities as well as hypotheses about how personality affects the attractiveness of particular sources of political information. We find that the Big Five traits are significant predictors of political interest and knowledge as well as consumption of different types of political media. Openness (the degree to which a person needs intellectual stimulation and variety) and Emotional Stability (characterized by low levels of anxiety) are associated with a broad range of engagement with political information and political knowledge. The other three Big Five traits, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Extraversion, are associated only with consumption of specific types of political information.

Keywords: personality traits, Big Five, political interest, political knowledge, news consumption, social psychology

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Alan and Huber, Gregory and Doherty, David and Dowling, Conor, Personality Traits and the Consumption of Political Information (January 4, 2011). American Politics Research, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 32-84, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1734773

Alan Gerber

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 (Contact Author)

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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