Regional levels of fear associated with Trump and Brexit votes, psychology study shows

ScienceDaily | 3/8/2018 | Staff
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Research has long established that political attitudes are associated with the Big Five personality traits. For example, prior studies show low openness and high conscientiousness to be related to conservativism. But in 2016, two campaigns built on populist themes of fear, lost pride and loss aversion awoke previously uninfluential traits, particularly those of anxiety, anger and fear -- all of which are aspects of the Big Five trait of neuroticism.

The study, conducted by researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Ilmenau University of Technology, University of Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Melbourne University and The University of Texas at Austin, was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in March.

Models - Behavior - Factor - People - Voting

"The models traditionally used for predicting and explaining political behavior did not capture an essential factor that influenced people's voting decisions in 2016," said lead author Martin Obschonka, a psychologist and associate professor in entrepreneurship at QUT. "We propose a kind of "sleeper effect." Under normal conditions these traits have no influence, but in certain circumstances, widespread anxiety and fear in a region have the potential to profoundly impact the geopolitical landscape."

Using personality data from 417,217 British and 3,167,041 United States participants, researchers tested regional levels of fear, anxiety and anger, comparing them to the traits historically correlated with political orientation (openness and conscientiousness) to measure the link between regional psychological climate and 2016 voting behavior. Regions were measured at the county-level in the U.S. and local authority district level in the U.K.

Researchers - Correlations - Levels - Anxiety - Fear

The researchers found correlations between higher levels of anxiety and fear in a region and both the Brexit and Trump votes, and an even stronger influence of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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