Bryan Caplan  

Personality and Ideology: Compared to What?

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Arnold makes a fair point about the size of the effect of personality on ideology.  Why then am I so impressed?  Because compared to most conventional predictors of ideology, the personality variables do well.  I've spent many hours looking at ideology data before.  Variables widely believed to predict ideology (particularly education and income) usually matter quite a bit less than Gerber et al's personality measures.

If Arnold's willing to say, "Nothing predicts ideology well, but if these results hold up, personality is among ideology's strongest predictors," we're basically in agreement.

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Grant writes:

This jives with my personal experience. I'm very libertarian because I've noticed that when other people try to make decisions for me, they do an absolutely terrible job of it.

This may be a better topic for OB, but maybe we should be skeptical of the truthfulness of beliefs which highly correlate with our personality?

Karl Gallagher writes:

I've found zip code (or other residence info) to be a great predictor of ideology. I think most people are using ideology to gain or maintain peer acceptance rather than analyzing the issues.

SydB writes:

Maybe I'm confused. It sounds like the argument is as follows: X has an almost negligible effect. Y has a more negligible effect than X. Hence: X is awesome.

Call them for what they are: Noise.

Steve Sailer writes:

You need a cleaner study where the effects of class, ethnicity, region, religion, parental views, etc. on ideology are out of the picture.

You should look for studies of brother pairs raised in the same household, and see how much effect personality has on ideology then. That would give you a pretty good "all else being equal" approach to the question.

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