Personality traits as predictors of citizen engagement with local government

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Victor G. Hugg
Kelly LeRoux


Personality traits, Big five, Local government participation, Citizen engagement


Do citizens' personality traits affect their likelihood of interacting with local public officials? Using psychology's preferred approach for operationalizing personality — the "Big Five" trait framework — and two nationally-representative survey data sets from the U.S., we examine this question, and find that: (1) citizens who score higher on openness and extraversion traits have an increased likelihood of attending a local government board meeting; and (2) personality traits that predict the likelihood a citizen will contact a local government official vary based on whether that official holds an elected or non-elected position. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for citizen engagement scholarship, and outline ways to extend this research in future studies.

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