Home Society & Culture Spanish Politicians Are More Sociable and Less Lazy Than Citizens, According to New Study

Spanish Politicians Are More Sociable and Less Lazy Than Citizens, According to New Study

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A new study has unveiled striking differences in personality traits between politicians and citizens in Spain, revealing a distinct “politician’s personality”. The research, published in the journal Parliamentary Affairs, provides a comprehensive analysis of the personality traits of citizens and MPs from the four largest Spanish political parties. The findings highlight the homogeneity among politicians and suggest that personality traits may play a significant role in political representation and voter trust.

The personalisation of politics has become increasingly significant, with citizens often basing their voting decisions on the perceived personality traits of politicians. Despite this, there has been limited research into how the personalities of politicians compare with those of the general public. This study aims to bridge that gap by examining the personality traits of Spanish politicians and citizens, focusing on party allegiances and ideologies.

The research utilised two representative surveys conducted between 2018 and 2019. One survey targeted elected MPs across Spain’s national and regional parliaments, achieving a response rate of 25%. The other survey was conducted online with a sample of 3,031 adult citizens, selected to match Spain’s population statistics in terms of sex, age, and education level.

Both surveys employed a short, 10-item version of the Big Five Inventory (BFI-10) to measure personality traits. This inventory assesses five major dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The questionnaires were designed to ensure comparability between the responses of politicians and citizens.

The study’s results reveal that politicians in Spain tend to have more homogeneous personality traits compared to the general population. Politicians scored significantly higher in traits such as sociability, imagination, and conscientiousness, while scoring lower in traits such as laziness and artistic interests. These findings suggest the existence of a “politician’s personality” that distinguishes elected representatives from the citizens they serve.

The study found that Spanish politicians are a more homogeneous group in terms of personality traits compared to the general public. This homogeneity was particularly evident in traits such as sociability and conscientiousness. For example, politicians were found to be more sociable and imaginative, but less lazy and artistic than the average citizen.

While ideology and partisanship were expected to reduce personality differences, the study found that these factors only partially accounted for the variations in personality traits. Politicians from the same party or ideological background tended to have more similar personality profiles, but significant differences remained. This indicates that while partisanship and ideology play a role, they do not entirely bridge the personality divide between politicians and citizens.

Certain personality traits were more prevalent among politicians than citizens. Politicians were found to be significantly more sociable and imaginative, traits that are essential for connecting with voters and succeeding in political careers. Conversely, citizens scored higher on traits such as laziness and artistic interests. These differences highlight the unique personality profile that distinguishes politicians from the general public.

The findings of this study have important implications for understanding the personalisation of politics and its impact on democratic representation. The distinct personality traits of politicians may influence their approach to governance and policy-making, as well as their ability to connect with voters. Moreover, the homogeneity among politicians suggests that certain personality traits may be advantageous for pursuing a career in politics, potentially leading to a self-selection bias.

The study also raises questions about the role of personality in political representation. If politicians have distinct personality traits that set them apart from the general public, this could affect their ability to represent the diverse personalities and preferences of their constituents. Understanding these personality differences is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of political representation and the legitimacy of democratic institutions.

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