Does Personality Matter in Politics? Personality Factors as Determinants of Parliamentary Recruitment and Policy Preferences

In: Comparative Sociology
Heinrich Best Institute for Sociology, Friedrich-Schiller-University 07443 Jena Germany

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This article inquires into the impact of personality factors on the selection and self-selection of parliamentary elites. I compare personality profiles of German MPs and the German population obtained through survey research, and for some comparisons I utilize elite and mass samples matched for education, gender, and age. I ask further if MPs’ personalities have an impact on their preferences for expansionist or restricted government budgets and welfare state benefits, the extension or limitation of civic rights, and several other policies. Party affiliations of MPs are used as a control variable. I find that MPs’ personality traits differ strikingly from those of the German population and from those of followers in most of the parties with which MPs are affiliated.

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