Government Honors Thesis: Alexander Hatoum

Title: Neurotics and the News: Integrating Affective Science, Personality and Political Judgment

Author: Alexander Hatoum

Summary:

It has been well established within Political Psychology that anxiety increases political information-seeking. Often times, anxious individuals also have increased political knowledge due to this increased information-seeking. In another strand of political psychology, individual personality traits influence political action, rather than emotional states. Some research even shows individuals with certain traits participating more in politics or even gravitating to particular political values. One specific trait, Neuroticism, seems to show little effect on political behavior and action. However, Neuroticism is the trait that rates highest in trait anxiety and Neuroticism is the trait that experiences anxiety most often as a result. Thus, this thesis will attempt to show that individuals high in Neuroticism will most likely show more of the political information-seeking behavior observed with anxiety. The results show three things, first that Neuroticism did have increased information-seeking, second that despite this increased information-seeking Neurotic individuals showed less political knowledge, and finally that other Big Five traits shared some relationships with political information-seeking, especially Openness to Experience.