The relationship between personality traits and political ideologies cannot simply be understood as a negative or positive correlation. Personality traits are combinations of characteristics that we are born with, as well as personal environment that guide our behaviours. Contemporary approaches like those found within Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) assert that social attitudes uphold ideology and that political attitudes encompass authoritarianism, traditional values and rules. Researchers want to try and prove whether right-winged ideologies were accompanied by facets such as rigidity, intolerance of ambiguity and cognitive complexity. An interesting fact about personality traits and political views can be discussed in the work of Sartre (1948) within Van Hiel, Onraet and Pe Pauw (2010) “a man may be a good father and a good husband, a conscientious citizen, highly cultivated, philanthropic and in addition an anti-semite”. After thoroughly understanding the research, I believe the study in general was very strong that had a strong background and had reliable and note-worthy conclusions.
The current study focuses on the social cultural attitudes and how these cognitive styles tap into the understanding of political views. Verhulst, Hatemi and Martin (2010) discussed the understanding that environmental influences are personal to an individual and most shape the individuals personality traits. It can be also understood that genetic influences can play a very important part in personality but genes are not just factors but facets to personality traits. Classical studies like those written by Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) include behavioural tasks to measure cognition because it may overlap specific research conclusions that make the theory of political attitudes more reliable. There has been a significant amount of research regarding political ideologies and personality traits but through all this research it cannot be stressed enough that the relationship has not been fully explored.
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Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) used both behavioural and self-report in researching right-winged ideologies. These were accompanied by cognitively limiting factors such as cognitive rigidity, intolerance of ambiguity, low cognitive complexity and field dependence. There were 92 studies used that consisted of a total of 29, 209 participants (2010).
When using such a large number of participants, it allocates a smaller percentage towards bias, allowing for a more probable outcome. The use of relevant studies and computerized databases tested cognitive social attitudes through coded design, sample and publication features (2010).
The focus of this study was on the relationship between cognitive style and variables tapping into the social-cultural domain (2010).
A major strength of Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) incorporates the number of participants and conclusions made with these participants. Having a large amount of participants has made the research far more reliable and valid. It was concluded that increasing rigidity was associated with stronger right-winged ideologies, high level of intolerance of ambiguity was associated with right-wing ideologies and there was a low complexity for right-wing ideologies (2010).
It was also concluded that lower cognitive ability scores were associated with stronger endorsement of right-wing ideologies and that there was a negative relationship between conservative ideology and cognitive ability. Verhulst, Hatemi and Martin (2010) focused on the idea that negative personality traits were consistent with conservatism and positive personality traits were consistent with liberalism. Twins were the populous for this study and were assessed based on a 50-item index that made conclusions regarding political and social attitudes. The use of twins’ studies can be seen as a very strong variable in research studies. Researchers suggest that psychoticism and rigidity were more related too conservative religious, sex and punishment attitudes (2010).
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Verhulst, Hatemi and Martin (2010) concluded that results were largely consistent with the expectations based on the twin correlations and the long-standing personality literature. The conclusions made within the twins study research have made personality and political research more reliable because the findings have been consistent in their findings. Verhulst, Hatemi and Martin (2010) have concluded that the relationships between psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism and all attitude dimensions were largely driven by common genetic influences. The negative personality traits that have been comparable to conservative pave a pathway into understanding the genetic disposition of a conservatist mindset (2010).
Finally, the big five personality traits have been seen to positively and negatively affect our political leanings, specifically because each trait affects our decisions differently.
There are techniques that researcher use to further strengthen their research; these techniques include but are not limited too self-reports, behavioural reports and observer reports. These techniques are used, more so together to create strong consistent correlations among research. Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) focused their political attitude research on behavioural reports and self reports in hopes to yield reliable constant correlations. The reason for studying such aspects as political attitude and personality is based on the idea that relationship between cognitive complexity and ideology has been intensively studied, but these studies have not yielded clear results (2010).
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For this reasoning, it would be a positive influence on the historical findings if the political attitude research could yield positive results. Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) concluded that there was a relationship between social-cultural attitudes and cognitive style but unfortunately behavioural measures yielded weaker correlations than self-reports.
Colemont, Van Hiel and Cornelis (2011) aimed to explore all direct and indirect relationships between broad bandwidth personality factors, social attitudes and punitive attitudes using both behavioural and self-reports. Results indicated a very strong correlation in behavioural reports relating too neuroticism and personality traits; specifically those that involve harsh punishment and social constructive treatment (2011).
This conclusion opposed the above research regarding personality traits and political attitudes. Having conclusions that contradicted each other allows for research conclusions to be debated among present and future research.
Colemont, Van Hiel and Cornelis (2011) also concluded that specific punitive attitudes referred to a limited number of uncorrelated higher order factors that can significantly alter the positive correlations among personality and political attitude research. The strength among behaviour reports can be seen in the above research study as a stronger correlation regarding personality and political attitude. Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) oppose the above and suggest that self-reports can be used to further discuss the personality traits associated with political attitudes. Colemont, Van Hiel and Cornelis (2011) further concluded that those high in Extraversion and Agreeableness were found to weigh all aspects of a crime and choose the treatment they consider most appropriate and that social-Constructiveness was poorly related too social attitudes, these aspects were highly conclusive to the research on personality traits and political views. Having highly conclusive research makes the comparable research very strong; and having strengths among research is key to understanding the true meaning of political attitudes and personality traits.
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Another negative aspects of the research by Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) is the lack of usage regarding observer reports. As we as a class have learned in lecture, observer reports are a great way to getting realistic research because they do not take into account the personal aspects of the research. Wood, Vazire and Harms (2010) researched observer reports and perception of social attitudes as well as how cognitive accounts of disagreeableness or anti-social behaviour suggest that these behaviours are heavily due to how the self believe others see them. Observer reports are a great way of understanding people because people normally act in ways that complement the way they tend to see others. When using observer reports we should assume that the relationship between self-rating and others perspectives are trait specific (2010).
165 undergraduate students were asked to come in groups of five friends to help with the research. Forcing people to vary their rating more than they normally should result in an underestimation of the extent to which perceiver effects. The best result was the prediction of an observer effect for any of the big five personality traits and how these results can be traced back to self-reports of Agreeableness (2010).
There was very large individual differences in how positively ‘raters’ judged targets in the group; ratings normally have a large impact on single-observer reports (2010).
Tendencies to judge others positively have been associated with every dimension related to Agreeableness, with the strongest relationships observed for characteristics associated with adversarial behaviour (2010).
As we have previously discussed, Agreeableness and Extraversion have both been seen too complement the liberalist point of view. Having positive perceptions of others can also be associated with having considerably better organizational experiences (2010).
Unfortunately though, it was found that there has not been substantial enough research that contributes heavily to the findings regarding observer reports and the validity of these findings. Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) only used behavioural and self-report models; and found weak correlations among the behaviour models. It is interesting to wonder, if the same correlations would be found when using observer reports compared to self-reports.
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When researching area’s like personality and social attitude there have always been weaknesses. Among the literature for Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) one of the major weaknesses was that the comparable research between behavioural studies and self-reports did not conclude the same findings. Another weakness is that the study was based on information from previous studies, not a unique study of their own. This can be seen as a weakness because instead of finding new research to compare to previous research they compared previous research attempts together. A third weakness was the lack of analytical research regarding observer studies; there have been few studies but not enough to yield strong correlations. A suggestion for future research could be devising a study that looks at all three types of studies, those being behavioural, observer reports and self-reports. In doing so, the conclusions that are made through the comparisons of the three studies should yield very strong correlations. It would also be interesting to compare three different studies using three different types of studies to see if different correlations could be found. Comparing three different studies could allow the possibility to see whether the personality traits of one individual decide the friendships and social attitudes of another.
After thoroughly investigating the research regarding political attitudes and personality traits, it is easily established that certain aspects of a personality adhere to more of a conservative perspective, like those specifically relating to punitive attitudes, sexuality and life choices and some personality traits adhere more to a liberalist point of view. It was concluded that Liberalist point of views have personality types that are normally higher in Extraversion and Agreeableness and that conservative perspectives are found to have higher personality traits such as neuroticism. It can be concluded that Van Hiel, Onraet and De Pauw (2010) proved that right-winged political ideologies were accompanied by limiting factors as cognitive rigidity, intolerance of ambiguity as well as low cognitive complexity. Through comparing the other studies it could be suggested that the main research has weaknesses that outweigh the strengths causing it to in turn be a weak stud. It is interesting, when looking at the findings as a whole the personality traits that were seen among liberal and conservative peoples were remotely ubiquitous.
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Colemont, A., Van Hiel, A, & Cornelis, I (2011).
Five-Factor Model personality dimensions and right-winged attitudes: psychological bases of punitive attitudes? Personality and Individual Differences. 50, 486-491
Wood, D., Vazire, S, & Harms (2010).
Perceiver Effects as Projective Tests: What your perceptions of others say about you. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 99 (1), 174-190
Van Hiel, A., Onraet, E., & de Pauw, S. (2010).
The relationship between social-cultural attitudes and behavioural measures of cognitive style: A meta-analytic integration of studies. Journal of Personality, 78, 1765-1789
Verhulst, B., Hatemi, P, & Martin, N (2010).
The nature of the relationship between personality traits and political attitudes. Personality and Individual Difference. 49, 306-316