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28 Feb 2013

Personality is our Politics

Personality & PoliticsPeople often believe that political views are a battle of ideas. In reality, they are more a battle of personality types. People also believe people are important. “I am a people person,” is a common self-descriptor. Daily though, we discount people without consciously realizing we do.

For instance, saying politics is a battle of ideas, we are saying ideas are more important than people are. A key aspect of humans is their personality. Discounting personality’s influence is discounting people. Our personalities’ dominance is why such things as education and facts don’t influence as much as other people and people’s own personalities do. Increasingly, research shows our personality and genes playing a huge role.

The work of John Jost (New York University), Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) and Samuel Gosling (University of Texas) highlights this influence. In this interview of Jost, he shares how simple things like music and knickknacks can indicate political orientation.

The article, “Body Politic” (The Economist, October 6, 2012 edition), goes even further by highlighting the genetic work of Peter Hatemi (Pennsylvania State University) and Rose McDermott (Brown University):

In the matter of both political outlook and political participation, it is coming to be seen that genes matter quite a lot. . . . They are not the be-all and end-all. But, . . . they affect a person’s views of the world almost as much as his circumstances do, and far more than many social scientists have been willing, until recently, to admit.

We aren’t born as “blank slates.” Birth gives us innate qualities that influence our views beyond the reach of reason and logic. To discount people and their personalities in decision-making is. . . well . . . unreasonable and illogical.


Here are links to the entire series of videos in the discussion, “The Psychology of the Political Left & Right:

This is the link to Jost’s, Nosek’s and Gosling’s work on the nature of ideology: Ideology: Its Resurgence in Social, Personality, and Political Psychology


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