Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
Application of a five-factor approach to the study of political behavior first requires that data be gathered and scales be constructed. These tasks should not be taken lightly, especially given that the Big Five has only a thin track record in research on political behavior. All measurement procedures in the social sciences bring strengths and weaknesses, and it is important that these characteristics be recognized and their implications understood. Hence, this chapter offers a systematic look at the data sets and trait scales used in subsequent chapters to examine the possible political effects of the Big Five. Several specific matters receive attention in this chapter. First, this study's three surveys are described. Discussion then turns to the features of the Big Five batteries administered on these surveys, including review of coding and scale construction, item content, reliability, and the relationship between Big Five scales and demographics. Lastly, data on response rates and response time are assessed in an effort to glean insight regarding any possible logistical complications involved in use of Big Five batteries.
In the period 1998 to 2006, I had the opportunity to include personality batteries on three public opinion surveys that serve as the primary data sources in the present study. One of these surveys was entirely of my design, whereas the other two were collaborative omnibus projects in which I was a participant.