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Agreeable Authoritarians: Personality and Politics in Contemporary Russia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Samuel Greene, Graeme Robertson

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1802-1834
JournalCOMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES
Volume50
Issue number13
Early online date16 Jan 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press30 Sep 2016
E-pub ahead of print16 Jan 2017
Published1 Nov 2017

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Abstract

Personality research is a growing field in political behavior, but most research to date is confined to democracies. We expand the scope to Russia, an authoritarian regime, and find that the impact of personality is substantial but different from the existing literature. We find that agreeableness, a personality trait associated with a desire to maintain positive relations with others that is usually peripheral to politics, becomes the single most important and consistent trait affecting attitudes. This perspective helps us to understand why individuals who are socioeconomically and demographically similar can have quite different attitudes to the regime. Our analysis also helps us to understand the mechanisms through which personality works and how it shapes attitudes to such important elements as religion and state propaganda. Our findings suggest a new, and empirically testable, mechanism behind situations in which regimes rapidly dissolve, including revolutions.

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