What I Like About You: Legislator Personality and Legislator Approval

Jonathan D. Klingler, Gary E. Hollibaugh, Adam J. Ramey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent work in the study of legislative politics has uncovered associations between the Big Five personality traits and myriad phenomena in the United States Congress. This literature raises new questions about political representation in terms of the Big Five, specifically, whether voters are more likely to support legislators with similar personality traits to their own, who would presumably have similar process preferences, or legislators with valence personality traits, regardless of congruence, which are associated with better leadership. We first revisit the measurement validity of voter assessments of legislator personality in the 2014 and 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies to demonstrate that such survey items are meaningful. Subsequently, we use these data to construct measures of personality congruence and valence and apply them to predict voters’ job approval of legislators. Our results support the claim that voters evaluate legislators’ job performance on the basis of perceived valence traits rather than legislators’ congruence to voters’ own personality dispositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-525
Number of pages27
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019


  • Big Five
  • Candidate evaluations
  • Congress
  • Non-nested model testing
  • Personality
  • Voter decision-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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