Personality and Politics

Personality and Politics

Would you be surprised if I told you that I could guess your political views with just a little bit of information about your personality?

You might already know that personality traits make a big impact on behavior and judgement. People relate to others who have similar personalities and hold similar judgements. If people see themselves in a person on the campaign trail, they are more likely to trust that person and even vote for them as president.

Once you take a Big Five personality test, you might start to see connections between your personality traits and the views you hold and the votes you have cast.

Let’s talk about these connections and how you can use personality traits to predict someone’s political stances.

Political Involvement

We won’t dive right into the 2016 election just yet. I want to start off by talking about how your personality influences your political involvement and activity.

People who score high in extraversion are typically more likely to participate in marches, rallies, and protests that involve big groups of people.

People with a higher level of conscientiousness are also more likely to show up for jury duty, but less likely to vote. Why? Experts believe that people who are more conscientious tend to believe that their single vote is unlikely to make a difference. Since Jury duty is a legal requirement, they are much more likely to follow the rules.

Another interesting thing that can influence your political views is if you’re infected with a parasite. People with parasites in them want to prevent more parasites from getting in, which subconsciously increases their level of conscientiousness, thus making them more conservative. Studies have also found that the presence of parasites or famine in an area is a positive predictor of people in that area starting to support the creation of an authoritarian system of government. People with parasites in them have also been found to be more xenophobic, or against immigrants. 

American Party and Ideology Affiliation

Do your personality traits influence whether you are more conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat? Researchers have found trends that connect the two.

For example, people with score high in conscientiousness tend to strive for more order, a tendency that is associated with conservative values, they like rules. Conversely, people who score high in creativity and openness to experience tend to be more liberal.

Other studies have found less significance behind your level of extraversion and neuroticism when it comes to your political views.

The 2016 Election

How do Big Five scores match up with the results of the last Presidential election?

In the 2016 United States presidential election, people with a high level of openness to experience and also a high level of neuroticism tended to vote for the more liberal Hillary Clinton.

People with a high level of extraversion and conscientiousness tended to vote for the more conservative Donald Trump.

There were no significant tendencies for people with a high level of agreeableness, but in general, people who scored high for agreeableness were more likely to vote for Trump.

Personality Politics graph

How Personality and Environment Influence Political Opinion

Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into how we form our political opinion. Life events, where we live, and the media we consume all play into political ideology. But personality traits can influence the factors that influence our political ideology.

To demonstrate this, I want to talk about how personality traits influence where you choose to work. Workplace culture can have a big impact on political opinion. Have you ever noticed that the people around you and working with you often share your political views?

Team leaders are generally discouraged from showing political bias when choosing who to hire, but they are encouraged to pick people that they believe to be a “good fit” their company’s work environment. When it comes to “fitting in” with workplace culture, the applicant’s personality traits are a big indicator of what kinds of things they might want and seek out. These are the same traits that can influence political opinion.

Let me give you some examples of this.

Extroverts prefer a more public work environment where they can interact with other workers often and benefit from different types of stimuli. Meanwhile, introverts and more reserved individuals tend to prefer more private work environments, like laboratories or engineering work, where they don’t need to interact with fellow workers.

People who score high in extraversion typically work best in an environment that is comfortable with ambiguity. Team leaders may look at a problem many different ways and ask for multiple solutions to one question. The people who work well in this environment also tend to be more adventurous. The same preferences apply for people who are more liberal. As we mentioned earlier, more liberal people do tend to be more open to experience.

Conversely, people who score high in conscientiousness tend to like a single answer for each problem. They also tend to be more cautious and risk-avoidant. Typically, these personality types tend to be more conversative.   

People who lean to the left (aka, are more liberal) are more comfortable questioning and challenging authority. They feel more comfortable in a wok environment that encourages this behavior and has a looser hierarchical structure. Liberals, and people who score high in openness to experience, tend to thrive in an environment that heavily focuses on the present-future.

More conservative individuals thrive in a past-present oriented work environment. Experts believe this trend is explained by a conservative person’s general inclination towards stability and tradition.

Traits outside the Big Five also influence success in different workplace cultures.

People high in cooperation, trust, and altruism (aka the desire to help others), tend to prefer a more collectivist work culture, which is based around assisting other workers. A collectivist work culture suits people who find it rewarding to help others in their group succeed. Similarly, people who lean to the left are more likely to thrive in this type of culture.

Meanwhile, people who score low in these traits, and have more conservative views, tend to prefer an individualist work culture, where they can do their own work without having to worry about sharing with, helping, or trusting others.

If you’re assertive and active, you’re more likely to succeed in a similarly high-achievement and competitive environment. If you’re more contemplative and like to take things at your own pace, you’re more likely to flourish in an environment where you can take more time, experiment, and learn from mistakes.

Wrapping It Up

So your personality defines what kinds of workplace cultures you’d like to apply to. Since others with similar personalities will be attracted to similar jobs and cultures, it’s likely that you will interact with like-minded people at work. You may also find that you have come from different parts of the country or the world to live in an environment and work in a culture that fits your personality.

Research has shown the link between how geographic location, workplace culture, and similar factors influence political opinion.  

If you’d like to see how your personality is linked to your political views, I’d like to offer you a friendly challenge. Click the link in the description and take my new personality quiz. I’ll bet I can guess your political views in your results.

Don’t believe me? Take the quiz and see for yourself! Let me know in the comments if my quiz guessed your political opinions!

References:

"An Analyses of Political Discrimination in the Workplace - Emory Law." http://law.emory.edu/ecgar/perspectives/volume-5/perspectives/google-political-discrimination-workplace.html. Accessed 23 Feb. 2019.

"Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence ...." 1 May. 2013, https://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~schaller/MurraySchallerSuedfeld2013.pdf. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

"Personality Traits and Workplace Culture - A Peer-Reviewed ...." https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/personality-traits-and-workplace-culture/. Accessed 16 Feb. 2019.

"The Association between Personality Traits and Voting Intentions in ...." 23 Sep. 2016, http://evidencebase.usc.edu/the-association-between-personality-traits-and-voting-intentions-in-the-2016-presidential-election/. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

"Too much discipline on the left, too little on the right | askblog." 5 Dec. 2017, http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/too-much-discipline-on-the-left-too-little-on-the-right/. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

"Your personality plays a role in your political behavior, author says ...." 27 Jul. 2010, https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/205571. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

About the author 

Theodore

Theodore created PracticalPsychology while in college and has transformed the educational online space of psychology. His goal is to help people improve their lives by understanding how their brains work. 1,700,000 Youtube subscribers and a growing team of psychologists, the dream continues strong!

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