Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Personality and Civic Engagement: An Integrative Framework for the Study of Trait Effects on Political Behavior

  • JEFFERY J. MONDAK (a1), MATTHEW V. HIBBING (a1), DAMARYS CANACHE (a1), MITCHELL A. SELIGSON (a2) and MARY R. ANDERSON (a3)...
Abstract

People's enduring psychological tendencies are reflected in their traits. Contemporary research on personality establishes that traits are rooted largely in biology, and that the central aspects of personality can be captured in frameworks, or taxonomies, focused on five trait dimensions: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. In this article, we integrate a five-factor view of trait structure within a holistic model of the antecedents of political behavior, one that accounts not only for personality, but also for other factors, including biological and environmental influences. This approach permits attention to the complex processes that likely underlie trait effects, and especially to possible trait–situation interactions. Primary tests of our hypotheses draw on data from a 2006 U.S. survey, with supplemental tests introducing data from Uruguay and Venezuela. Empirical analyses not only provide evidence of the value of research on personality and politics, but also signal some of the hurdles that must be overcome for inquiry in this area to be most fruitful.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Jeffery J. Mondak is James M. Benson Chair in Public Issues and Civic Leadership, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 605 E. Springfield, Champaign, IL 61820 (jmondak@illinois.edu).
Matthew V. Hibbing is a graduate student in the Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 605 E. Springfield, Champaign, IL 61820 (hibbing2@illinois.edu).
Damarys Canache is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 605 E. Springfield, Champaign, IL 61820 (dcanache@illinois.edu).
Mitchell A. Seligson is Centennial Professor of Political Science and Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, Box 1817 Station B, Nashville, TN 37325 (m.seligson@vanderbilt.edu).
Mary R. Anderson is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and World Affairs, University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606 (mranderson@ut.edu).
References
Hide All
Alford, John R., Funk, Carolyn L., and Hibbing, John R.. 2005. “Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?American Political Science Review 99 (2): 153–67.
Allik, Juri, and McCrae, Robert R.. 2004. “Toward a Geography of Personality Traits: Patterns of Profiles across Cultures.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 35 (1): 1328.
Bagby, R. Michael, Levitan, Robert D., Kennedy, Sidney H., Levitt, Anthony J., and Joffe, Russell T.. 1999. “Selective Alteration of Personality in Response to Noradrenergic and Serotonergic Antidepressant Medication in Depressed Sample: Evidence of Non-specificity.” Psychiatry Research 86 (3): 211–16.
Booth, John A., and Seligson, Mitchell A.. 2009. The Legitimacy Puzzle in Latin America: Democracy and Political Support in Eight Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Borkenau, Peter. 1992. “Implicit Personality Theory and the Five-Factor Model.” Journal of Personality 60 (2): 295327.
Bouchard, Thomas J., and Loehlin, John C.. 2001. “Genes, Evolution, and Personality.” Behavior Genetics 31 (3): 243–73.
“Caracas, Venezuela: 2006 Crime and Safety Report.” Overseas Security Advisory Council. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=49691, July 7 2006.
Caspi, Avshalom, Sugden, Karen, Moffitt, Terrie E., Taylor, Alan, Craig, Ian W., Harrington, Hona Lee, McClay, Joseph, Mill, Jonathan, Martin, Judy, Braithwaite, Antony, and Poulton, Richie. 2003. “Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene.” Science 301 (5631): 386–89.
Cattell, Raymond B. 1956. “Validation and Interprettion of the 16 P. F. Questionnaire.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 12 (3): 205–14.
Church, A. Timothy. 2000. “Culture and Personality: Toward an Integrated Cultural Trait Psychology.” Journal of Personality 68 (4): 651703.
Church, A. Timothy. 2001. “Personality Measurement in Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Journal of Personality 69 (6): 9791006.
Connolly, James J., Kavanagh, Erin J., and Viswesvaran, Chockalingam. 2007. “The Convergent Validity between Self and Observer Ratings of Personality: A Meta-Analytic Review.” International Journal of Selection and Assessment 15 (1): 110–17.
Costa, Paul T. Jr., and McCrae, Robert R.. 1988. “Personality in Adulthood: A Six-Year Longitudinal Study of Self-Reports and Spouse Ratings on the NEO Personality Inventory.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54 (5): 853–63.
Costa, Paul T. Jr., and McCrae, Robert R.. 1992. Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Costa, Paul T. Jr., and McCrae, Robert R.. 2006. “Age Changes in Personality and Their Origins: Comment on Roberts, Walton and Viechtbauer (2006).” Psychological Bulletin 132 (1): 2628.
Denny, Kevin, and Doyle, Orla. 2008. “Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality: Determinants of Voter Turnout in Britain.” British Journal of Political Science 38: 291310.
DeYoung, Colin G. 2006. “Higher-Order Factors of the Big Five in a Multi-Informant Sample.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 91 (6): 1138–51.
Digman, John M. 1997. “Higher-Order Factors of the Big Five.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73 (6): 1246–56.
Eysenck, Hans J. 1947. Dimensions of Personality. London: Routledge.
Eysenck, Hans J. 1990. “Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Individual Differences: The Three Major Dimensions of Personality.” Journal of Personality 58 (1): 245–61.
Eysenck, Hans J. 1992. “Four Ways Five Factors are Not Basic.” Personality and Individual Differences 13: 667–73.
Fowler, James H., Baker, Laura A., and Dawes, Christopher T.. 2008. “Genetic Variation in Political Participation.” American Political Science Review 102 (2): 233–48.
Fowler, James H., and Dawes, Christopher T.. 2008. “Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout.” Journal of Politics 70 (3): 579–94.
Fowler, James H., Dawes, Christopher T., and Christakis, Nicholas A.. 2009. “Model of Genetic Variation in Human Social Networks.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (6): 1720–24.
Funder, David C. 2008. “Persons, Situations, and Person–Situation Interactions.” In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, eds. John, Oliver P., Robins, Richard W., and Pervin, Lawrence A.. New York: Guilford Press, 568–80.
Gerber, Alan, Huber, Gregory A., Raso, Connor, and Ha, Shang. 2009. “Personality and Political Behavior.” Unpublished manuscript. Yale University.
Goldberg, Lewis R. 1990. “An Alternative ‘Description of Personality’: The Big-Five Factor Structure.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 59 (6): 1216–29.
Goldberg, Lewis R. 1992. “The Development of Markers for the Big-Five Factor Structure.” Psychological Assessment 4 (1): 2642.
Goldberg, Lewis R. 1993. “The Structure of Phenotypic Personality Traits.” American Psychologist 48 (1): 2634.
Gosling, Samuel D., Rentfrow, Peter J., and Swann, William B. Jr., 2003. “A Very Brief Measure of the Big-Five Personality Domains.” Journal of Research in Personality 37 (6): 504–28.
“Government Says Conflict on the Decline in Venezuela.” EFE News Service, 19 June 2007.
Hardy, John, and Singleton, Andrew. 2009. “Genomewide Association Studies and Human Disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 360 (17): 1759–68.
Hatemi, Peter K., Alford, John R., Hibbing, John R., Medland, Sarah E., Keller, Matthew C., Martin, Nicholas G., and Eaves, Lindon J.. Forthcoming. “Not by Twins Alone: Using Extended Family Design to Investigate Genetic Influence on Political Beliefs.” American Journal of Political Science.
Hatemi, Peter K., Medland, Sarah E., and Eaves, Lindon J.. 2009. “Do Genes Contribute to the ‘Gender Gap’?Journal of Politics 71 (1): 262–76.
Heath, A. C., Neale, M. C., Kessler, R. C., Eaves, L. J., and Kendler, K. S.. 1992. “Evidence for Genetic Influences on Personality from Self-Reports and Informant Ratings.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 63 (91): 8596.
Heise, David R. 1970. “The Semantic Differential and Attitude Research.” In Attitude Measurement, ed. Summers, Gene F.. Chicago: Rand McNally, 235–53.
Huckfeldt, Robert, Johnson, Paul E., and Sprague, John. 2004. Political Disagreement: The Survival of Diverse Opinions within Communication Networks. New York: Cambridge University Press.
John, Oliver P., Naumann, Laura P., and Soto, Christopher J.. 2008. “Paradigm Shift to the Integrative Big Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Conceptual Issues.” In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, eds. John, Oliver P., Robins, Richard W., and Pervin, Lawrence A., New York: Guilford Press, 114–58.
John, O. P., and Srivastava, Sanjay. 1999. “The Big Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives.” In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, eds. Pervin, Lawrence A., and John, Oliver P., 2nd ed.New York: Guilford Press, 102–38.
Kalish, Yuval, and Robins, Garry. 2006. “Psychological Predispositions and Network Structure: The Relationship between Individual Predispositions, Structural Holes and Network Closure.” Social Networks 28 (1): 5684.
Kendler, Kenneth S., and Baker, Jessica H.. 2007. “Genetic Influences on Measures of the Environment: A Systematic Review.” Psychological Medicine 37 (5): 615–26.
Kraft, Peter, and Hunter, David J.. 2009. “Genetic Risk Prediction—Are We There Yet?New England Journal of Medicine 369 (17): 1701–3.
Krueger, Robert F., and Johnson, Wendy. 2008. “Behavioral Genetics and Personality: A New Look at the Integration of Nature and Nurture.” In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, eds. John, Oliver P., Robins, Richard W., and Pervin, Lawrence A., New York: Guilford Press, 287310.
Lewis, Christopher J., Mitchell, Dona-Gene, and Rugeley, Cynthia R.. 2005. “Courting Public Opinion: Utilizing Jury Pools in Experimental Research.” Presented at the 2005 Political Methodology Summer Conference, Tallahassee.
Loehlin, John C. 1992. Genes and Environment in Personality Development. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
McClurg, Scott D. 2006. “The Electoral Relevance of Political Talk: Examining the Effect of Disagreement and Expertise in Social Networks on Political Participation.” American Journal of Political Science 50 (3): 737–54.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr. 1987. “Validation of the Five-Factor Model of Personality across Instruments and Observers.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52 (1): 8190.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr. 1989. “Different Points of View: Self-Reports and Ratings in the Assessment of Personality.” In Recent Advances in Social Psychology: An International Perspective, eds. Forgas, Joseph P., and Innes, J. Michael, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 429–39.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr. 1997. “Personality Trait Structure as a Human Universal.” American Psychologist 52 (5): 509–16.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr. 2003. Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective, 2nd ed.New York: The Guilford Press.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr., 2006. “Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Adult Personality Trait Development.” In Handbook of Personality Development, eds. Mroczek, Daniel K., and Little, Todd D., Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 129–45.
McCrae, Robert R., and Costa, Paul T. Jr., 2008. “The Five-Factor Theory of Personality.” In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, eds. John, Oliver P., Robins, Richard W., and Pervin, Lawrence A., New York: Guilford Press, 159–81.
McCrae, Robert R., Jang, Kerry L., Livesley, W. John, Riemann, Rainer, and Angleitner, Alois. 2001. “Sources of Structure: Genetic, Environmental, and Artifactual Influences on the Covariation of Personality Traits.” Journal of Personality 69 (4): 511–35.
McCrae, Robert R., Yik, Michelle S. M., Trapnell, Paul D., Bond, Michael H., and Paulhus, Delroy L.. 1998. “Interpreting Personality Profiles across Cultures: Bilingual, Acculturation, and Peer Rating Studies of Chinese Undergraduates.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74: 1041–58.
McDermott, Rose, Tingley, Dustin, Cowden, Jonathan, Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Johnson, Dominic D. P.. 2009. “Monamine Oxidase A Gene (MAOA) Predicts Behavioral Aggression Following Provocation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106 (7): 2118–23.
Medland, Sarah E., and Hatemi, Peter K.. 2009. “Political Science, Biometric Theory and Twin Studies: An Introduction.” Political Analysis 17 (2): 191214.
Mischel, Walter. 1968. Personality and Assessment. New York: Wiley.
Mischel, Walter. 1979. “On the Interface of Cognition and Personality: Beyond the Person–Situation Debate.” American Psychologist 34 (9): 740–54.
Mischel, Walter, and Shoda, Yuichi. 1995. “A Cognitive-Affective System Theory of Personality: Reconceptualizing Situations, Dispositions, Dynamics, and Invariance in Personality Structure.” Psychological Review 102 (2): 246–68.
Mitchell, Dona-Gene, and Mondak, Jeffery J.. 2009. “The Context for Defeat.” In Fault Lines: Why the Republicans Lost Congress, eds. Mondak, Jeffery J., and Mitchell, Dona-Gene, New York: Routledge, 1–21.
Mondak, Jeffery J., and Halperin, Karen D.. 2008. “A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behavior.” British Journal of Political Science 38: 335–62.
Mutz, Diana C. 2006. Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mutz, Diana C., and Mondak, Jeffery J.. 2006. “The Workplace as a Context for Cross-Cutting Political Discourse.” Journal of Politics 68 (1): 140–55.
Osgood, Charles E., Tannenbaum, Percy H., and Suci, George J.. 1957. The Measurement of Meaning. Urbana, Il: University of Illinois Press.
Overseas Security Advisory Council. 2006. “Caracas, Venezuela: 2006 Crime and Safety Report.” July 7. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=49691 (November 22, 2009).
Overseas Security Advisory Council. 2007. “Uruguay 2006 Crime and Safety Report.” June 14. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=68012 (November 22, 2009).
Overseas Security Advisory Council. 2008. “Venezuela 2008 Crime and Safety Report.” February 21. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=80085 (November 22, 2009).
Oxley, Douglas R., Smith, Keven B., Alford, John R., Hibbing, Matthew V., Miller, Jennifer L., Scalora, Mario, Hatemi, Peter K., and Hibbing, John R.. 2008. “Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits.” Science 321 (5896): 1667–70.
Rammstedt, Beatrice, and John, Oliver P.. 2007. “Measuring Personality in One Minute or Less: A 10-Item Short Version of the Big Five Inventory in English and German.” Journal of Research in Personality 41: 203–12.
Riemann, Rainer, Angleitner, Alois, and Strelau, Jan. 1997. “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Personality: A Study of Twins Reared Together Using the Self- and Peer Report NEO-FFI Scales.” Journal of Personality 65 (3): 449–75.
Roberts, Brent W., Walton, Kate E., and Viechtbauer, Wolfgang. 2006. “Patterns of Mean-Level Change in Personality Traits across the Life Course: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies.” Psychological Bulletin 126 (1): 125.
Rorden, Chris, and Karnath, Hans-Otto. 2004. “Using Human Brain Lesions to Infer Function: A Relic from a Past Era in the fMRI Age?Nature Reviews 5 (10): 813–19.
Saucier, Gerard, and Goldberg, Lewis R.. 2001. “Lexical Studies of Indigenous Personality Factors: Premises, Products, and Prospects.” Journal of Personality 69 (6): 847–79.
Schmitt, David P., Allik, Juri, McCrae, Robert R., and Benet-Martinez, Veronica. 2007. “The Geographic Distribution of Big Five Personality Traits: Patterns and Profiles of Human Self-Description across 56 Nations.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 38 (2): 173212.
Schoen, Harald, and Schumann, Siegfried. 2007. “Personality Traits, Partisan Attitudes, and Voting Behavior: Evidence from Germany.” Political Psychology 28 (4): 471–98.
Settle, Jamie E., Dawes, Christopher T., and Fowler, James H.. 2009. “The Heritability of Partisan Attachment.” Political Research Quarterly 62 (3): 601–13.
Smith, Kevin B., Oxley, Douglas R., Hibbing, Matthew V., Alford, John R., and Hibbing, John R.. 2009. “Linking Genes and Political Attitudes: The Role of Bedrock Principles Concerning the Organization of Social Life.” Unpublished manuscript, University of Nebraska.
Suhay, Elizabeth, and Kalmoe, Nathan. 2009. “Violations of the Equal Environments Assumption in Twin Studies of Political Traits.” Unpublished manuscript, University of Michigan.
Tellegen, Auke, Lykken, David T., Bouchard, Thomas J., Wilcox, Kimerly J., Segal, Nancy L., and Rich, Stephen. 1988. “Personality Similarity in Twins Reared Apart and Together.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54 (6): 1031–39.
Turkheimer, Eric, and Waldron, Mary. 2000. “Nonshared Environment: A Theoretical, Methodological, and Quantitative Review.” Psychological Bulletin 126 (1): 78108.
“Uruguay 2007 Crime and Safety Report.” Overseas Security Advisory Council. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=68012, June 12 2007.
Vecchione, Michele, and Caprara, Gian V.. 2009. “Personality Determinants of Political Participation: The Contribution of Traits and Self-Efficacy Beliefs.” Personality and Individual Differences 46 (5): 487–92.
“Venezuela 2008 Crime and Safety Report.” Overseas Security Advisory Council. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=80085, February 21 2008.
Watson, David. 1989. “Strangers’ Rating of the Five Robust Personality Factors: Evidence of a Surprising Convergence with Self-Reports.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57 (1): 120–28.
Watson, David, Hubbard, Brock, and Wiese, David. 2000. “Self-Other Agreement in Personality and Affectivity: The Role of Acquaintanceship, Trait Visibility, and Assumed Similarity.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78 (3): 546–58.
Woods, Stephen A., and Hampson, Sarah E.. 2005. “Measuring the Big Five with Single Items Using a Bipolar Response Scale.” European Journal of Personality 19 (5): 373–90.
Yamagata, Shinji, Suzuki, Atsunobu, Ando, Juko, Kijima, Nobuhiko, Ostendorf, Fritz, Riemann, Ranier, Livesley, W. John, Jang, Kerry L., Spinath, Frank M., Angleitner, Alois, Kimio, Yoshimura, and Ono, Yutaka. 2006. “Is the Genetic Structure of Human Personality Universal?: A Cross-Cultural Twin Study from North America, Europe, and Asia.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90 (6): 987–98.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed