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Which personality fits personalized representation?

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Troels Bøggild, Rosie Campbell, Marie Kaldahl Nielsen, Helene Helboe Pedersen, Jennifer Anne vanHeerde-Hudson

Original languageEnglish
JournalParty Politics
E-pub ahead of print20 Jun 2019

King's Authors


In this article, we propose an individual-level explanation for variation in personalized representation, and ask which personality fits personalized representation. Building on political psychology literature, we derive hypotheses about how fundamental personality traits such as extraversion and agreeableness correlate with politicians’ preferences for personalized representation. We investigate these expectations using new survey data collected simultaneously among Danish and British MPs, including comprehensive personality measures. We show that personalized representation is particularly pronounced among MPs with higher levels of extraversion, openness to experience and lower levels of agreeableness. Furthermore, and in line with our theoretical expectations, we show that the correlations between personality traits and preferences for personalization vary across countries. Our findings suggest that personalized representation has an underlying personal dimension; consequently, politicians with certain personality traits may have an electoral advantage, particularly where politics become increasingly personalized.

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