Can specific personality traits better explain EU attitudes?

Julian Aichholzer, Beatrice Rammstedt

Scholars trying to understand attitudes toward the European Union (EU) are increasingly interested in citizens’ basic predispositions, such as the “Big Five” personality traits. However, previous research on this particular relationship has failed to provide sound hypotheses and lacks consistent evidence. We propose that looking at specific facets of the Big Five offers a deeper understanding of the associations between personality predispositions, their measures, and EU attitudes. For this purpose, the 60-item Big Five Inventory-2, which explicitly measures Big Five domains and facets, was administered in a German population sample. We applied a variant of structural equation modeling and found that personality predispositions promoting communal and solidary behavior, cognitive elaboration, and a lower tendency to experience negative emotions predicted support for further European integration. Greater support of European integration might thus reflect, in part, basic psychological predispositions that facilitate adapting to the political, social, and cultural complexity posed by Europeanization. The study thus contributes to our understanding of deep-rooted patterns in thoughts and feelings that can shape citizens’ EU attitudes.

Department of Government
External organisation(s)
GESIS – Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Acta Politica: international journal of political science
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506012 Political systems, 501004 Differential psychology, 506004 European integration
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