Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
From the outset, this study has been motivated by the thesis that personality is consequential for mass politics. More specifically, biological factors shape personality, which, in turn, functions as a persistent influence on political behavior. To examine the possible political effects of personality, the indicators constructed in Chapter 3 now must be put to work. In this chapter and the two that follow, a multitude of tests will be conducted to explore the possible political significance of variance in personality. Collectively, these tests offer a sweeping, multifaceted look at potential connections between the Big Five trait dimensions and a wide range of political phenomena. My strategy is to be as comprehensive as possible. Data from all three surveys are examined, and relationships of various forms are considered.
In this chapter, analyses center on political information, broadly defined. Included are tests regarding where citizens receive information about politics, patterns in social communication about politics, and the extent to which people are politically attentive, knowledgeable, and opinionated. In Chapter 5, the focus shifts to political attitudes and predispositions, followed in Chapter 6 by an investigation of the impact of personality on political participation. The dependent variables populating these three chapters constitute a representative array of the factors central in contemporary research on political behavior.
In each of these three chapters, a two-part analytical approach is employed. The first portion of each chapter reports tests regarding possible direct effects of personality on a wide range of dependent variables.