Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior

Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior

Personality and the Foundations of Political Behavior is the first study in more than 30 years to investigate the broad significance of personality traits for mass political behavior. Drawing on the Big Five personality trait framework, Jeffery J. Mondak argues that attention to personality provides a valuable means to integrate biological and environmental influences in rich, nuanced theories and empirical tests of the antecedents of political behavior. Development of such holistic accounts is critical, Mondak contends, if inquiry is to move beyond simple “blank slate” environmental depictions of political engagement. Analyses examining multiple facets of political information, political attitudes, and participation reveal that the Big Five trait dimensions – openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability – produce both direct and indirect effects on a wide range of political phenomena.


“When virtually all of his colleagues were still treating individual-level political traits as isolated phenomena, Jeff Mondak realized they were in fact intimately connected to larger life forces such as broad personality traits. This original and remarkably creative book makes it clear that the future of research on personality and politics lies not in shallow, speculative Freudian case studies but in objective, rigorous, large-N analyses. Research at the nexus of personality and politics is starting to gain momentum, thanks largely to Mondak’s leadership, and if this book does not significantly enhance that momentum by providing an empirical framework and by stimulating numerous new data-based studies, I will be both surprised and bitterly disappointed.”
– John R. Hibbing, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Mondak argues persuasively that traits shape political behavior. He provides an accurate and balanced account of recent progress in personality research and illustrates its application in his own work. This book – which should be read by sociologists, historians, and journalists as well as political scientists – is an important step in the integration of the social sciences.”
– Robert McCrae, author of Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Perspective