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The Impact of Personality on Cognitive, Behavioral, and Affective Political Processes: The Effects of Need to Evaluate


  • George Y. Bizer, Psychology Department, Eastern Illinois University. Jon A. Krosnick, Departments of Psychology and Political Science, Ohio State University; University Fellow at Resources for the Future. Allyson L. Holbrook, Survey Research Laboratory, Graduate Program in Public Administration, and Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago. S. Christian Wheeler, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Derek D. Rucker and Richard E. Petty, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University.
    We thank the Board of Overseers of the National Election Survey for their helpful comments on the manuscript and for making the study possible, and Penny Visser for her invaluable help with statistical analyses.
    Portions of the paper were previously presented at the 2001 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, the 2002 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, and the 2003 annual meeting of the American Psychological Society.

concerning this article should be addressed to George Y. Bizer, Psychology Department, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston Illinois 61920. E-mail:


Abstract Need to evaluate (NE) is a personality trait that reflects a person's proclivity to create and hold attitudes; people high in NE are especially likely to form attitudes toward all sorts of objects. Using data from the 1998 National Election Survey Pilot and the 2000 National Election Survey, NE was shown to predict a variety of important attitude-relevant cognitive, behavioral, and affective political processes beyond simply holding attitudes: NE predicted how many evaluative beliefs about candidates a person held, the likelihood that a person would use party identification and issue stances to determine candidate preferences, the extent to which a person engaged in political activism, the likelihood that a person voted or intended to vote, the extent to which a person used the news media for gathering information, and the intensity of emotional reactions a person felt toward political candidates. Thus, NE appears to play a powerful role in shaping important political behavior, emotion, and cognition.