Personality Traits (“Big Five”) and the Propensity to Political Protest: Alternative Models



In a representative panel study, citizens of Leipzig (East Germany) were interviewed in 1993 and 1996 about their incentives for and participation in political protest activities. Conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness to experience, and extraversion (the Big Five) were measured with 16 bipolar adjectives. The present report supplements a previous work of the authors that drew on the theories of rational choice and collective action and conceived of incentives as proximal causes and personality dispositions as distant causes of political protest. Based on structural equation modelling (SEM), the present article deals with the respondents' recurrent reports on protest incentives and protest acts as indicators of the latent construct protest propensity that is according to the predictions directly influenced by openness to experience (O+), agreeableness (A−), neuroticism (N−), and reciprocity orientation (N*E+) with 35% explained variance.