Personality and Electoral Volatility

In a series of studies, I have address the association between personality traits and the stability and change of voter preferences.

Abstract: Following Hirschman, voters who are discontent with the party they voted for have two options: exit the party and vote for another or stay loyal. The inclination to exit or stay loyal is rooted in the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality. We test our argument in two panel studies in Denmark and the United Kingdom (UK). We find that citizens open to experience are more likely to switch parties since they are more likely to think about alternatives and take risks. Extroverts identify and commit themselves to organizations and stay loyal in Denmark, but we do not confirm this pattern in the UK. Our findings demonstrate that electoral volatility is, at least partly, rooted in personality.


  •  B.N. Bakker, D.N. Hopmann & M. Persson (2015). Personality traits and party identification over time. European Journal of Political Research 54(2): 197-215. doi: 10.111/1475-6765.12070 (Click here to read the paper)

Abstract: Why do some people stably identify with a party while others do not? This study tests whether and how the direction, stability and strength of party identification are associated with big five personality traits, using panel data from a representative sample of German citizens. First, the study confirms that personality traits are related to identification with different political parties. Second, it moves beyond previous research by showing that personality traits are related to the strength and variation in party identification over time. The implications of the study for the classical perspectives on party identification, as well as the personality and politics literature, are discussed.