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Emerging political conflicts and the role of personality

Peresman, Adam (2021) Emerging political conflicts and the role of personality. PhD thesis, University of Essex.


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The political systems of many Western, democratic countries are undergoing large changes. Particular issues are taking on greater prominence. Cooperation and compromise are becoming more difficult. And, arguably, we are seeing the resurgence of “populist” styles of politics. This dissertation, comprised of three papers, aims to show how personality is involved in some of these changes taking place. My first paper focuses on immigration attitudes in the UK and investigates how people with different personalities respond to rising levels of immigrants in their local areas. I show that the likely response is dependent both on the immigrant group, as well as one’s personality. Moreover, I found evidence that openness and extraversion may moderate the effects of local immigrant levels. My second paper, co-authored with Royce Carroll and Hanna Bäck, continues the research into immigration attitudes in the UK. Focusing on authoritarianism, we show that ‘right-wing authoritarianism’ is very strongly associated with immigration attitudes – much more so than competing measures, such as ‘social dominance orientation’, left-right placement, and even a measure of explicit prejudice. We also show that authoritarianism predicts a large preference for culturally similar immigrant groups, especially among high-skill immigrants. My third paper turns to a new issue: affective polarization. I argue that personality may influence out-party hostility in a number of ways. Due to the wide variety of media choices available, personality may influence media selection, indirectly impacting levels of hostility. One’s personality may also moderate the effects of news consumption. Finally, personality may directly drive levels of hostility. While I did not find evidence of a moderation effect, personality traits were found to both influence media selection and directly impact levels of affective polarization These three papers demonstrate the importance of one’s disposition to many of the emerging divisions we are witnessing in modern-day politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Adam Peresman
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2021 16:16
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2021 16:16

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