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Personality and Politics: Values, Traits, and Political Choice



Voters' political choices have presumably come to depend more on their personal preferences and less on their social characteristics in Western democracies. We examine two aspects of personality that may influence political choice, traits and personal values, using the Five Factor Model of personality traits and the Schwartz (1992) theory of basic personal values. Data from 3044 voters for the major coalitions in the Italian national election of 2001 showed that supporters of the two coalitions differed in traits and values, largely as hypothesized. Center-left voters were higher than center-right voters in the traits of friendliness and openness and lower in energy and conscientiousness. Regarding values, center-left voters were higher than center-right voters in universalism, benevolence, and self-direction and lower in security, power, achievement, conformity, and tradition. Logistic regressions revealed that values explained substantial variance in past and future voting and in change of political choice, trumping personality traits. We discuss explanations for the primacy of values and implications for the social cognitive view of personality.