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Personality Traits and the Early Origins of Political Sophistication: Openness to Experience or Intellectualism?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2018

Alexandre Blanchet*
Affiliation:
McGill University, Department of Political Science, Room 24-5, 3610 rue McTavish, Montréal, Québec H3A 1Y2
*
*Corresponding author. Email: alexandre.blanchet@mail.mcgill.ca

Abstract

Recent research using the Big Five model of personality traits has highlighted the importance of personality traits to explaining diverse political behaviours and attitudes. The trait labelled openness to experience has also been found to positively affect political knowledge. This investigation seeks to distinguish two different components of openness: the aesthetic and the intellectual facets. An analysis of the 2015 Canadian Election Study (CES), the 2012 American National Election Study (ANES) and the 2013 ANES Recontact Study was conducted to explore this question. Openness had no significant impact on political knowledge when a measure that more precisely targets intellectualism, as represented by need for cognition, was included. However, open individuals did exhibit higher levels of interest in politics. Finally, openness to experience and need for cognition fostered political knowledge with frequency of political discussion and exposure to disagreement in the CES respondents (Canadians) but not in the ANES respondents (Americans).

Résumé

Des travaux récents utilisant le modèle de personnalité du «Big Five» ont démontré l'importance des traits de personnalité pour expliquer une variété de comportements et attitudes politiques. Il a aussi été démontré que le trait nommé «ouverture aux expériences» affecte positivement l'information politique. Cet article se penche sur cette relation en distinguant deux éléments constitutifs de l'ouverture aux expériences : les facettes esthétique et intellectuelle. L'article analyse les données des études électorales canadiennes de 2015, celles de l'American National Election Study de 2012, ainsi que les données de l'ANES Recontact Study de 2013. Il est démontré que l'ouverture aux expériences n'a pas d'impact significatif sur le niveau d'information politique lorsqu'une mesure visant plus directement l'intellectualisme (le besoin de cognition) est prise en compte. Cependant, les individus plus ouverts rapportent significativement plus d'intérêt pour la politique. Finalement, il est démontré que l'ouverture aux expériences et le besoin de cognition affectent positivement les niveaux d'information politique en interagissant avec l'exposition aux discussions et aux désaccords politiques au Canada, mais pas aux États-Unis.

Type
Research Article/Étude originale
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2018 

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