Will I Stay or Will I Go? Conscientiousness and Lame Duck Absenteeism in the United States Congress

69 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014 Last revised: 19 May 2015

See all articles by Adam Ramey

Adam Ramey

New York University Abu Dhabi

Jonathan Klingler

Vanderbilt University

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 18, 2015

Abstract

Political scientists have long considered ideology, partisanship, and constituency in determining how members of the United States Congress make decisions. Meanwhile, psychologists have held that personality traits play central roles in decision-making. Here, we bridge these literatures by offering a framework for modeling how personality influences legislative behavior. Drawing from experimental economics and neuropsychology, we identify core cognitive constraints for the “Big Five” personality model, parameterizing them in ways useful for crafting formal models of legislative behavior. Using machine-learning models to connect linguistic cues with known personality correlates, we use floor speeches to estimate legislators’ personality traits. Matching methods are used to study how personality traits affect behavior in Congress, with a focus on how Conscientiousness affects absenteeism in the absence of an electoral connection. Our results are consistent with a parameterization of Conscientiousness as time preferences rather than a tendency to keep commitments out of a sense of duty.

Keywords: personality, Congress, machine learning, legislative politics, polarization

JEL Classification: D72, C1, D7

Suggested Citation

Ramey, Adam and Klingler, Jonathan and Hollibaugh, Gary, Will I Stay or Will I Go? Conscientiousness and Lame Duck Absenteeism in the United States Congress (May 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2405140 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2405140

Adam Ramey (Contact Author)

New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Jonathan Klingler

Vanderbilt University ( email )

PMB 505
230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jonathandklingler.com

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

2060 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.garyhollibaugh.com

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
465
rank
58,784
Abstract Views
2,866
PlumX Metrics