Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. states' personalities linked to their politics

Date:
March 31, 2014
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
If one state's citizens are more agreeable and another's more conscientious, could that influence how each state is governed? A recently published study suggests it could. Political scientists matched personality data from more than 600,000 Americans with state-level measures of political culture, and found striking results.

One state's citizens are collectively more agreeable and another's are more conscientious. Could that influence how each state is governed?

Related Articles


A recently published study suggests it could.

Jeffery Mondak and Damarys Canache, political science professors at the University of Illinois, analyzed personality data from more than 600,000 Americans, identified by state, who had responded to an online survey for another research study. They then matched that data with state-level measures of political culture, as identified by other, unrelated research.

The results were striking. "Variation in personality across the American states corresponds quite strongly with states' core political characteristics," they write in a paper published in the March issue of the journal Political Research Quarterly.

The study does not prove a cause and effect, only a correlation between collective personality traits and political culture within states, says Mondak, the James M. Benson Chair in Public Issues and Civic Leadership, who has been studying the intersection between psychology and politics for nearly two decades. (His 2010 book, "Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior," was one of the first on the subject.)

Establishing the connection is significant, however, Mondak said. "It's important that we figure out what makes individuals tick and then how that connects to what makes societies tick," he said. "Now we know that these individual-level psychological properties are related -- and strongly related -- to key aspects of political culture that have been studied for decades."

Mondak's study of personality and politics is based on the "five factor" or "Big Five" model that has revolutionized the study of personality since the late 1980s, he said. The model provides a structure for grouping hundreds of personality traits under five broad dimensions: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness (friendly vs. more distant) and neuroticism (or its reverse, emotional stability).

In fact, many personality tests that have become popular online -- such as those offering to tell you which U.S. president or "Seinfeld" character you're most like -- are based on the "Big Five," Mondak said.

All of the five dimensions are on a continuum and the model is not designed to make judgments about certain traits or suggest any ideal personality, he said. Being open to experience, for instance, can make someone more open to both good and bad, and healthy and unhealthy, behaviors.

Among the researchers' findings was that states with lower levels of conscientiousness or higher levels of agreeableness were very likely to have a political culture that saw government as a positive force committed to the collective good. States lower in agreeableness were very likely to have a political culture focused on individualism and smaller government.

Also, states that were higher in openness to experience had citizenries that tended to be ideologically liberal. Massachusetts, New York and Oregon are all good examples of that, Mondak said, since they all were among the highest in both categories.

States with higher levels of conscientiousness, on the other hand, were very likely to have a political culture more committed to maintaining traditional social hierarchies, and to have populations that were more ideologically conservative. Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee all are good examples.

The researchers also found links between personality traits and other criteria related to political and civic culture. States that collectively showed more openness to experience, for example, had higher rates of women in state legislatures and home Internet access. Those high in conscientiousness had higher rates of violent crime, as well as lower rates of home Internet access.

These links between personality and politics are all the more interesting because the difference in collective personality between states is small, Mondak said. "Individuals vary a lot in their personalities. States don't vary a lot. We're talking about just a few percentage points," he said.

It's not that surprising, however, Mondak said, when you consider that a small swing of voters in closely contested states can result in dramatically different policies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. J. Mondak, D. Canache. Personality and Political Culture in the American States. Political Research Quarterly, 2013; 67 (1): 26 DOI: 10.1177/1065912913495112

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "U.S. states' personalities linked to their politics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170633.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2014, March 31). U.S. states' personalities linked to their politics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170633.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "U.S. states' personalities linked to their politics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170633.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Indiana Permits Needle Exchange as HIV Cases Skyrocket

Indiana Permits Needle Exchange as HIV Cases Skyrocket

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Governor Mike Pence declares the recent HIV outbreak in rural Indiana a "public health emergency" and authorizes a short-term needle-exchange program. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Affordable Care Act 'saving Lives'

Obama: Affordable Care Act 'saving Lives'

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) Speaking at a White House event marking the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama says the law is "saving lives that touch all of us." (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Amazon Complains U.S. Is Too Slow To Regulate Drones

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) Days after getting approval to test certain commercial drones, Amazon says the Federal Aviation Administration is dragging its feet on the matter. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins