Thursday, October 14, 2010

Personality and Political Behavior

If you remember your psychology, you know all about the Big Five personality traits.  These are those five broad organizing traits under which all other psychological predispositions and actions are thought to emerge from.  What are the Big Five?
  • Openness to Experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Emotional Stability
We don't see a lot of studies that touch on media or political communication that make use of these big traits.  Instead, we often focus on smaller, more distinct, traits (need for cognition, as an example).  And yet, some folks take on the challenge, like this study.

The only reason I mention it is that, on Table 3, political knowledge gets tossed into the mix.  This is basically an examination of civic engagement (participation) as a function of the big personality traits.  Table 3, for example, looks at openness to experience and various political activities.  Political knowledge and internal efficacy (the belief of one's own competence in understanding politics) do a better job, it seems to me, than openness to experience when it comes to predicting participation.  The study is much broader than this, far more complex, but I'm keeping just to the bit that touches on knowledge.

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