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US politicians differed from the public on each of the five main personality traits

01 February 2017

A new study offers something of an explanation for why so many people feel that politicians are out of touch.

One of the explanations for recent political trends has been that our leaders are out of touch and not in tune with the general public. Now a new study from the University of California, published in Personality and Individual Differences, has offered something of an initial explanation for this.

Lead researcher Richard Hanania sent a personality questionnaire to thousands of US politicians, receiving 278 responses, which were compared against the answers given by 2586 members of the general public.

Analysis of the results showed that the politicians differed from the public in each of the big five personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness and agreeableness.

The biggest differences were found in neuroticism and extraversion, suggesting that people who are less emotionally sensitive, more outgoing and reward-driven are attracted to public office.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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