Personality, Negativity, and Political Participation

Aaron C. Weinschenk, Costas Panagopoulos


Scholars have recently started to integrate personality traits into models of political participation. In this paper, we present the results of a survey experiment (N = 724) designed to test whether negative political messages differentially impact people with different personality traits. We found evidence that individuals with high scores on agreeableness were less likely, and individuals with high scores on extraversion were more likely, to report intending to participate in politics than their counterparts after being exposed to negative political messages. Agreeableness and extraversion also interacted with negative messages to influence specific intentions to make a political donation, attend a meeting, rally, or event, and volunteer for a political campaign. We also found suggestive evidence that agreeableness interacted with negativity to influence turnout intentions. The results of this study have important implications for the study of political engagement, the ways in which people interact with political information, and the practice of democratic politics.


Big Five; personality traits; political participation; negativity; experiment

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