The generalizability of personality effects in politics

Joseph Vitriol*, Erik Gahner Larsen , Steven Ludeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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A burgeoning line of research examining the relation between personality traits and political variables relies extensively on convenience samples. However, our understanding of the extent to which using convenience samples challenges the generalizability of these findings to target populations remains limited. We address this question by testing whether associations between personality and political characteristics observed in representative samples diverged from those observed in the sub-populations most commonly studied in convenience samples, namely, students and Internet users. We leverage 10 high-quality representative datasets to compare the representative samples with the two subsamples. We did not find any systematic differences in the relationship between personality traits and a broad range of political variables. Instead, results from the subsamples generalized well to those observed in the broader and more diverse representative sample.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)631-641
Publication statusPublished - 1. Nov 2019


  • Big Five
  • external validity
  • generalizability
  • personality
  • political psychology
  • surveys


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