The Big Five and Politician Personalities

A recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences uses the Big Five framework to investigate personality differences between politicians and the general public and between politicians themselves based on ideology and party identification. A 50-item Big Five questionnaire was taken by 2586 respondents at the Open Psychology data website and 278 American state legislators. The author finds that politicians are more Extraverted, Agreeable, Emotionally Stable, and Conscientious than the general public. At the same time, they are slightly lower on Intellect/Imagination. All results are statistically significant for all traits and both sexes, except with regards to females and Intellect. When comparing politicians to one another and controlling for demographic variables, Republicans score higher on Conscientiousness and lower on Intellect and Agreeableness. These findings hold for a smaller sample when ideology is the dependent variable, although only Intellect/Imagination reaches statistical significance. Conservative ideology is also associated with Emotional Stability. The results show important differences between politicians and the public, and reveal personality differences among elites that are in some ways analogous to the results we find in more representative samples.

For the abstract


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