Context and personality interplay in the study of political attitudes

11.11.2013 - 12:00
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Art der Veranstaltung: 
AB B-Kolloquium
Dr. Zoltán Fazekas
Zugehörigkeit des Vortragenden: 
University of Southern Denmark

Extant research links individual differences in terms of personality to political
attitudes and electoral preferences. One reoccurring theme in theorizing these
relationships is the differential response to contextual factors depending on deep-
seated dispositional traits. This presentation focuses on this theoretical approach,
structured in two parts.
First, I analyze how dispositional traits correlate with preferences towards
specific coalition governments after the 2010 elections in The Netherlands. In
this case, the government formation entailed a long and noticeable negotiation
process and, for the first time, a minority coalition took office. Individuals per-
ceived this novel political reality, and the possible role of the Party for Freedom
(PVV), differently depending on dispositional traits. This translated into system-
atically different attitudes towards the government formed. Substantively, both
conscientiousness and neuroticism are positively associated with preferences for
stable majorities. Furthermore, a tacit supporting role of the PVV leading of to
functioning government is more acceptable for conscientious people, but only if
the supporting party is perceived to have a legitimate claim to be considered as a
government party based on its electoral results.
Second, the framing literature customarily employs experimental methods to
understand how different representations of a political issue can influence in-
dividual attitudes. Where previous literature evaluated psychological mediators
and both frame- and individual-level moderators, using survey data from six sur-
veys (in three countries) that included both personality items and framing exper-
iments, I analyze the systematic differences in the reactions to any type of frame
on multiple political issues. The methodological focus is on estimating heteroge-
neous treatment effects using ensemble methods for multiple issues and disen-
tangling whether traits such as openness to experience or agreeableness induce
systematic over-estimation of average treatment effects, ultimately influencing
our inferences about the role of framing in political attitude formation.