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The Participatory Personality: Evidence from Latin America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2010


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1 See, for example, Denny, K. and Doyle, O., ‘Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality: Determinants of Voter Turnout in Britain’, British Journal of Political Science, 38 (2008), 291310CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mondak, J. J. and Halperin, K. D., ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’, British Journal of Political Science, 38 (2008), 335362CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Vecchione, M. and Caprara, G. V., ‘Personality Determinants of Political Participation: The Contribution of Traits and Self-Efficacy Beliefs’, Personality and Individual Differences, 46 (2009), 487492CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Denny and Doyle, ‘Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality’; Mondak and Halperin, ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’; Vecchione and Caprara, ‘Personality Determinants of Political Participation’.

3 Verba, S. and Nie, N. H., Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality (New York: Harper & Row, 1972)Google Scholar; Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L. and Brady, H., Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995)Google Scholar; Wolfinger, R. E. and Rosenstone, S., Who Votes? (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1980)Google Scholar.

4 Brady, H. E., Verba, S. and Schlozman, K. L., ‘Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation’, American Political Science Review, 89 (1995), 271294CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Huckfeldt, R., Carmines, E. G., Mondak, J. J. and Zeemering, E., ‘Information, Activation and Electoral Competition in the 2002 Congressional Elections’, Journal of Politics, 69 (2007), 798812CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Huckfeldt, R. and Sprague, J., ‘Political Parties and Electoral Mobilization: Political Structure, Social Structure, and the Party Canvass’, American Political Science Review, 86 (1992), 7086CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jackson, R. A., ‘Gubernatorial and Senatorial Campaign Mobilization of Voters’, Political Research Quarterly, 55 (2002), 825844Google Scholar.

6 Greenstein, F. I., Personality and Politics (Chicago: Markham Publishing, 1969)Google Scholar.

7 Mussen, P. H. and Wyszynski, A. B., ‘Personality and Political Participation’, Human Relations, 5 (1952), 6582CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 Sniderman, P. M., Personality and Democratic Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975)Google Scholar.

9 Denny and Doyle, ‘Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality’.

10 Research on the Big Five is extraordinarily voluminous. For a discussion of the Big Five in the study of political behaviour, see Mondak and Halperin, ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’. Key works in this literature include: Goldberg, L. R., ‘An Alternative “Description of Personality”: The Big-Five Factor Structure’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59 (1990), 12161229CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and McCrae, R. R. and Costa, P. T. Jr, Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective, 2nd edn (New York: Guilford, 2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 The opposite of emotional stability is neuroticism, and thus the Big Five traits can be summarized with the acronym OCEAN: O(penness to experience), C(onscientiousness), E(xtraversion), A(greeableness), N(euroticism).

12 See Caspi, A., ‘The Child is Father of the Man: Personality Correlates from Childhood to Adulthood’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78 (2000), 158172CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Matthews, G. and Deary, I. J., Personality Traits (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998)Google Scholar.

13 Costa, P. T. Jr and McCrae, R. R., ‘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 (1988), 853863CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 For a recent discussion and meta-analysis, see Connolly, J. J., Kavanagh, E. J. and Viswesvaran, C., ‘The Convergent Validity between Self and Observer Ratings of Personality: A Meta-Analytic Review’, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 15 (2007), 110117CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Examples of research in this area include Church, A. T., ‘Culture and Personality: Toward an Integrated Cultural Trait Psychology’, Journal of Personality, 68 (2000), 651703CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Church, A. T., ‘Personality Measurement in Cross-Cultural Perspective’, Journal of Personality, 69 (2001), 9791006CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McCrae, R. R. and Costa, P. T. Jr, ‘Personality Trait Structure as a Human Universal’, American Psychologist, 52 (1997), 509516CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Saucier, G. and Goldberg, L. R., ‘Lexical Studies of Indigenous Personality Factors: Premises, Products, and Prospects’, Journal of Personality, 69 (2001), 847879CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Cheung, F. M. and Leung, K., ‘Indigenous Personality Measures: Chinese Examples’, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29 (1998), 233248CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Katigbak, M. S., Church, A. T. and Akamine, T. X., ‘Cross-Cultural Generalizability of Personality Dimensions: Relating Indigenous and Imported Dimensions in Two Cultures’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70 (1996), 99114CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Yang, K. and Bond, M. H., ‘Exploring Implicit Personality Theories with Indigenous or Important Constructs: The Chinese Case’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (1990), 10871095CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

17 Additional information about these surveys, and about the AmericasBarometer, is available on the LAPOP website:

18 The items used to measure openness to experience were not correlated at adequate levels to facilitate scale construction (in both nations, r < 0.15). Thus, we have elected to represent openness using data from only the intellectual–pragmatic item. In retrospect, the thoughtful–impulsive item pair was a poor choice for inclusion as a possible indicator of openness to experience. The problem is that if respondents took ‘impulsive’ to mean irresponsible, then their answers would speak more to conscientiousness than openness, and if they took ‘impulsive’ to mean ‘bold,’ their response might capture extraversion.

19 Past research has shown that on some of the Big Five items, a large majority of respondents place themselves in only a few response categories. For instance, most respondents rate themselves as conscientious and agreeable. This apparent social desirability bias raises the risk that extreme outliers – those few respondents who do rate themselves as irresponsible or disagreeable – will exert unduly strong influence on statistical estimates. The logarithmic transformation reduces the skew in the data. For a discussion of these issues, see Graziano, W. G. and Tobin, R. M., ‘Agreeableness: Dimension of Personality or Social Desirability Artifact?’ Journal of Personality, 70 (2002), 695727Google Scholar; and Paulhau, D. L., Bruce, M. N. and Trapnell, P. D., ‘Effects of Self-Presentation Strategies on Personality Profiles and their Structure’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21 (1995), 100108CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For specific discussion of the use of logged personality indicators, see Mondak, J. J., Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), chap. 3Google Scholar.

20 Evidence of positive effects of openness to experience on civic engagement is reported in Mondak, J. J., Hibbing, M. V., Canache, D., Seligson, M.A. and Anderson, M. R., ‘Personality and Civic Engagement: An Integrative Framework for the Study of Trait Effects on Political Behavior’, American Political Science Review, 104 (2010), 85110CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and J. J. Mondak, Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior.

21 For a recent review, see Dudley, N. M., Orvis, K. A., Lebiecki, J. E. and Cortina, J. M., ‘A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Conscientiousness in the Prediction of Job Performance: Examining the Intercorrelations and the Incremental Validity of Narrow Traits’, Journal of Applied Psychology 91 (2006), 4057CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22 See Mondak et al., ‘Personality and Civic Engagement’; and Mondak, Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior.

23 Consistent with this view, conflict avoidance has been shown to have a negative effect on participation. See Ulbig, S. G. and Funk, C. L., ‘Conflict Avoidance and Political Participation’, Political Behavior, 21 (1999), 265282CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Recent research on personality and civic engagement mostly has found null results in tests involving agreeableness; see Mondak et al., ‘Personality and Civic Engagement’; and Mondak, Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior.

24 Lounsbury, J. W., Loveland, J. M. and Gibson, L. W., ‘An Investigation of Psychological Sense of Community in Relation to Big Five Personality Traits’, Journal of Community Psychology, 31 (2003), 531541CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Caspi, A., Chajut, E., Saporta, K. and Beyth-Marom, R., ‘The Influence of Personality on Social Participation in Learning Environment’, Learning and Individual Differences, 16 (2006), 129144CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 Parkes, K. R. and Razavi, T. D. B., ‘Personality and Attitudinal Variables as Predictors of Voluntary Union Membership’, Personality and Individual Differences, 37 (2004), 333347CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26 Mondak and Halperin, ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’; Vecchione and Caprara, ‘Personality Determinants of Political Participation’.

27 The wealth variable is a count of the number of features or items respondents have in their households, ranging from indoor plumbing to cell phones and computers.

28 We recoded the second measure to a 0 to 1 scale so that the two items would contribute approximately equally to the final participation measure.

29 For an analysis of these questions in prior surveys in the AmericasBarometer series, see Seligson, A. L., ‘Civic Association and Democratic Participation in Central America: A Cross National Test of the Putnam Thesis’, Comparative Political Studies, 32 (1999), 342352CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a discussion of personality effects on additional dependent variables in Uruguay and Venezuela, see Mondak et al., ‘Personality and Civic Engagement’.

30 For an analysis of the antecedents and meaning of protest in Latin America, see Booth, J. A. and Seligson, M. A., The Legitimacy Puzzle in Latin America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Throughout this research note, predicted probabilities are calculated with other variables held constant at mean or modal values.

32 Roberts, B. W., Chernyshenko, O. S., Stark, S. and Goldberg, L. R., ‘The Structure of Conscientiousness: An Empirical Investigation Based on Seven Major Personality Questionnaires’, Personnel Psychology, 58 (2005), 103139CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

33 Horn, J., Nelson, C. E. and Brannick, M. T., ‘Integrity, Conscientiousness and Honesty’, Psychological Reports, 95 (2004), 2738CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Ones, D. S., Viswesvaran, C. and Schmidt, F. L., ‘Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Integrity Test Validities: Findings and Implications for Personnel Selection and Theories of Job Performance’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 78 (1993), 679703CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Hopwood, C. J., Morey, L. C., Skodol, A. E., Stout, R. L., Yen, S., Ansell, E. B., Grilo, C. M and McGlashan, T. H., ‘Five-Factor Model Personality Traits Associated with Alcohol-Related Diagnoses in a Clinical Sample’, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 68 (2007), 455460CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Arthur, W. and Graziano, W. G., ‘The Five-Factor Model, Conscientiousness, and Driving Accident Involvement’, Journal of Personality, 64 (1996), 593618CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 Mondak and Halperin, ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’ Mondak, Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior.

36 Vecchione and Caprara, ‘Personality Determinants of Political Participation’; Mondak and Halperin, ‘A Framework for the Study of Personality and Political Behaviour’; Mondak et al., ‘Personality and Civic Engagement’.

37 See, for example, Fowler, J. H., Baker, L. A. and Dawes, C. T., ‘Genetic Variation in Political Participation,’ American Political Science Review, 102 (2008), 233248CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fowler, J. H. and Dawes, C. T., ‘Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout’, Journal of Politics, 70 (2008), 479494CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

38 For an example of research in this area, see Cohen, A., Vigoda, E. and Samorly, A., ‘Analysis of the Mediating Effect of Personal-Psychological Variables on the Relationship between Socioeconomic Status and Political Participation: A Structural Equations Framework’, Political Psychology, 22 (2001), 727757CrossRefGoogle Scholar.