Advancing Research • Shaping Policy • Developing Leaders
Gerber et al on Personality Traits and Political Participation (Journal of Politics)
Abstract: Using data from two recent surveys, we analyze the relationship between Big Five personality traits and political participation. We examine forms of participation that differ in domain (local politics vs. national campaigns) as well as in the amount of conflict involved, whether they are likely to yield instrumental benefits, and whether they are likely to be viewed as a duty—characteristics that may affect the relationships between dispositional personality traits and political activity. We find relationships between personality traits and: (1) both self-reported and actual turnout (measured using administrative records), (2) overreporting of turnout, and (3) a variety of other modes of participation. The effect of personality on political participation is often comparable to the effects of factors that are central in earlier models of turnout, such as education and income. Consistent with our theoretical expectations, these relationships vary depending on personality-relevant characteristics of each participatory act.