Recent research has shown that differences in personality can help explain support or hostility towards immigration. Personality differences may also be related to the likelihood of contact with immigrant groups, as well as the effect of that contact. Using attitudinal measures from the British Election Study, this research confirms the importance of personality in predicting immigration attitudes. Furthermore, it shows that the effects of two Big Five traits, openness and extraversion, depend on the concentration of immigrants at a local level. In areas with high levels of immigrants, these traits more strongly associate with supportive attitudes. This may be due to more open and extraverted individuals having greater levels of contact with immigrants. Moreover, by looking at local concentrations of Western European immigrants, Eastern European immigrants, and immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, this study shows that only greater concentrations of Western European immigrants are associated with increases in immigration support, while in contrast, greater concentrations of immigrants from Muslim countries are associated with increases in hostility. These findings demonstrate that how individuals respond to local immigration levels is likely to depend both on their personality and the immigrant group in question.
Hello. I’m currently a PhD student at The University of Essex, focusing on public opinion and political psychology. My main interest is in personality and politics. In particular, how personality may be involved in some of the salient divisions in many Western societies.
My research is quantitatively oriented, with my analysis done in R. In the future, however, I hope to both expand my quantitative skills and tools, while also branch off into more qualitative methods. My undergraduate education focused on political philosophy, and I have a keen interest in history, and would greatly enjoy involving those interests more into my future research.
My dissertation is composed of three papers that deal, in different ways, with how personality may relate to some of these transformations and conflicts we are seeing in politics today. Two of the papers are concerned with immigration attitudes, while the final one is about affective polarization.
Divergent Responses to Local Diversity: Outgroup differences and the impact of personality[Working Paper]
Authoritarianism and anti-immigrant attitudes in the UK
with Royce Carroll and Hanna Bäck
The ‘cultural backlash’ to globalization has culminated in populist movements centered on opposition to immigration. In Britain, immigration attitudes were a key determinant of the Brexit referendum. While Brexit is often linked to the economic impact of globalization, research suggests cultural aspects of immigration are especially important in shaping anti-immigrant attitudes. In this paper, we examine the effect of ‘right-wing authoritarianism’ (RWA) on immigration attitudes in the UK after Brexit. We use an original survey measuring attitudes towards immigration from differing skill-levels and national origins. In line with recent literature, we find RWA is a strong predictor of immigration attitudes. Additionally, the effect of RWA is strongest for attitudes towards culturally distant immigrant groups. Finally, these effects are driven most by the 'aggression' component of RWA, suggesting it is individuals who want strong leadership to enforce group norms who are most negative towards immigration, particularly from culturally distant origins.
Individually Informed: Personality, news consumption, and affective polarization[Working Paper]
Research has indicated that news consumption may be fueling rises in affective polarization. As media choices increase, it is likely that individual factors, such as personality, may take on a larger role in determining the types of exposure individuals receive. Personality may also moderate the impact of news consumption as well as directly influence levels of affective polarization. In this analysis of an original survey (N = 855) of Democrats and Republicans, I show that Big Five personality traits influence cross-ideological news consumption, as well as attitudes towards news consumption. I find no evidence that open individuals consume more cross-ideological news. However, I find that extraverted individuals are likely to consume more news overall, including more cross-ideological news. Extraversion is also associated with negative reactions to polarizing content. Agreeable individuals, in contrast, were found to be associated with greater ideologically homogenous consumption patterns. Although consumption patterns were found to predict out-party hostility, these were not moderated by personality traits. Personality, however, was found to have significant direct effects on this hostility, with evidence that agreeableness and extraversion lowers it, and neuroticism raises it.