Statewide Differences in Personality Predict Voting Patterns in 1996-2004 U.S. Presidential Elections

Peter J. Rentfrow, John T. Jost, Samuel D. Gosling, Jeffrey Potter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Political regionalism is commonly attributed to differences in historical settlement patterns, social class, and racial diversity. This book provides evidence for the importance of another factor-state-level personality-in understanding regional differences in political ideology. Drawing on research in personality and social psychology, the chapter proposes that geographical differences in voting patterns partially reflect differences in the psychological characteristics of individuals living in different states. Specifically examined are associations between state-level personality scores and voting patterns in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 U.S. Presidential elections. Results show that mean levels of openness and conscientiousness within a state predict the percentage of votes for Democratic and Republican candidates. Furthermore, state-level personality scores account for unique variance in voting patterns, even after adjusting for standard sociodemographic and political predictors. This chapter demonstrates the value of investigating psychological variables at a regional level to better understand political culture and ideology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199869541
ISBN (Print)9780195320916
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Elections
  • Personality
  • Political regionalism
  • Regionalism
  • Voting patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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