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date: 18 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Research since the 1990s reveals that openness to experience—a personality trait that captures interest in novelty, creativity, unconventionalism, and open-mindedness—correlates negatively with political conservatism. This chapter summarizes this vast literature by meta-analyzing 232 unique samples (N = 575,691) that examine the relationship between the Big Five personality traits and conservatism. The results reveal that the negative relationship between openness to experience and conservatism (r = −.145) is nearly twice as big as the next strongest correlation between personality and ideology (namely, conscientiousness and conservatism; r = .076). The associations between personality traits and conservatism were, however, substantively larger in Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) countries than in non-WEIRD countries. The chapter concludes by reviewing recent longitudinal work demonstrating that openness to experience and conservatism are non-causally related. Collectively, the chapter shows that openness to experience is by far the strongest (negative) correlate of conservatism but that there is little evidence that this association is causal.

Keywords: personality, Big Five, openness to experience, conservatism, political ideology, meta-analysis

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