© 2017

Personality and the Challenges of Democratic Governance

How Unconscious Thought Influences Political Understanding


  • Utilizes the five-factor model of personality to examine the causes and roots of civic capacity

  • Breaks new ground for scholars of political participation and applied political psychology as well as those interested in improving civic discourse

  • Examines the effects of personality traits across a range of public policy issues


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Aaron Dusso
    Pages 39-65
  3. Aaron Dusso
    Pages 87-107
  4. Aaron Dusso
    Pages 109-128
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 149-203

About this book


This book examines how the five-factor model of personality (also known as the Big Five)—extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability/neuroticism, and openness to experience—influence individuals’ ability to understand and engage in four areas of civic life. First, it documents how personality influences individuals when connecting abstract concepts like liberal or conservative to specific public policy preferences. Second, it demonstrates how understanding basic political facts is often conditional on these traits. Third, it tests the role that personality plays in citizens’ capacity to fulfill the basic demands that democratic governance places on them, such as connecting their own policy preferences to the correct political party. Fourth, it reveals how personality traits can blind people to the role government plays in their lives, while simultaneously causing them to vilify more visible beneficiaries of government programs. Ultimately, this book will engage both scholars and civic-minded individuals interested in understanding the hidden factors driving political behavior.


political psychology civic attitudes personality traits cognitive dissonance comprehension Big Five personality traits five factor model ideological beliefs

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Political ScienceIndiana University–Purdue University IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA

About the authors

Aaron Dusso is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, USA. Dr. Dusso is also a core faculty member with the Indiana University Center for Civic Literacy. His previous work has been published in the journals Electoral Studies, Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, and Social Science Quarterly. 

Bibliographic information