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Beyond Total Effects: Exploring the Interplay of Personality and Attitudes in Affecting Turnout in the 2009 German Federal Election

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This article addresses the role of personality traits in shaping electoral participation. Utilizing data from a survey conducted after the 2009 German federal election, we demonstrate that agreeableness and emotional stability increase electoral participation. Yet, the main contribution of this article is to link personality traits to attitudinal predictors of turnout. First, we demonstrate that attitudinal variables, including party identification, civic duty, political interest, and internal and external efficacy, serve as intervening variables that mediate the impact of personality on turnout. Second, we show that personality traits exhibit conditioning effects by increasing or decreasing the impact of attitudinal factors on electoral participation. By and large, the evidence suggests that openness, agreeableness, and extraversion render attitudes (somewhat) less powerful in affecting turnout while conscientiousness and emotional stability increase the impact of certain attitudes. Third, we put indirect and conditioning effects together and find that emotional stability and conscientiousness exhibit particularly interesting patterns of effects: They shape attitudes in a way conducive to higher turnout and make these attitudes more powerful in affecting voter participation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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