Personality and Turnout: Results from the Finnish Longitudinal Studies

Authors


Mikko Mattila, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, PO Box 54, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: mikko.mattila@helsinki.fi; Hanna Wass and Sami Fredriksson, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki; Peter Söderlund, Åbo Akademi University; Pävi Fadjukoff, Agora Center, University of Jyväskylä; Katja Kokko, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä.

Abstract

Scholars in the field of electoral participation have for long been aware that turnout is strongly connected to sociopsychological variables such as religiosity, party identification, political interest and sense of political efficacy. The impact of personality characteristics has remained largely unexplored until recently. Based on the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development (JYLS, original N = 369), this article analyses the links between individuals' personality traits and their propensity to vote at ages 36, 42 and 50. The personality traits are measured by using the five-factor model of personality consisting of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. The results show both extraversion and agreeableness to be positively associated with electoral participation, but the findings are not consistent at all ages. Finally, the analysis suggests that the effect of extraversion varies depending on the level of education. Whereas well-educated people are more prone to be habitual voters regardless of their level of extraversion, among less-educated respondents it has a more sizeable effect.

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