Populist Appeal: Personality and Anti-establishment Communication

15.10.2018 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Matthijs Rooduijn
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Amsterdam

With the election of Donald Trump and landmark wins for populists across Europe, one of today's most pressing questions is: why do people supports populists? We theorize that citizens who score low on the personality trait Agreeableness -- who are more distrusting, cynical and tough-minded -- are more susceptible to anti-establishment messages expressed by populist parties and politicians. Using fifteen population-based cross-sectional samples collected in eight countries and three continents, we first show that individuals who score low on Agreeableness are more likely to support populists. With a conjoint experiment, we demonstrate that the anti-establishment message makes populists attractive to people who score low on Agreeableness. Finally, a unique physiological experiment demonstrates that for low agreeable citizens' an anti-establishment message is physiologically arousing. To understand the success of populists, we need to study the congruence between the messages expressed by populists and the personality of their voters.