Using the Five Factor Model of personality structure to identify the antecedents of political ambivalence Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Acevedo, Delia Nichole
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Research suggests that citizens may experience ambivalence if they use multiple values or cues from various social groups that champion conflicting views in their attempt to provide structure to their political attitudes, or if they find themselves in information environments where diverse positions about political objects are discussed. While valuable, these explanations ignore the roles that personality traits may play in predisposing individuals to experience this attitudinal state. In this dissertation, I offer an individual-level theory of the antecedents of political ambivalence, and contend that ambivalent attitudes are likely caused by deeply rooted individual differences that systematically influence behaviors and attitudes, in addition to the external factors that have been addressed in past studies. Using the Five Factor Model of personality structure as my theoretical framework, I develop a set of hypotheses about the direct effects that the Big Five traits of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism have on the likelihood that a citizen will experience ambivalence. I test my hypotheses using data gathered from the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES) and a series of survey experiments administered to undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between 2008 and 2011. I find some support for my theory that personality traits contribute to attitudinal ambivalence. However, variables such as group affect conflict and value conflict continue to exhibit a powerful influence on this attitudinal state even when controlling for the Big Five traits.
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  • Conover, Pamela
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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