Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
William F. Chaplin
Prediction of political behavior is of interest to scientists in the fields of psychology, sociology, and politics, as well as to the lay public. Previous research has connected personality to broad political leanings, but little if any published research has examined how personality relates to voting behavior. The current study built on earlier work by examining the connections among the Dark Triad of personality (psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism), demographics, specific political beliefs, and political behaviors. We hypothesized that dark personality would relate to political beliefs such that those higher on the Dark Triad would show stronger support for policies that benefit their demographic groups, because the Dark Triad represents self-interested personality. We expected that self-interested political beliefs would in turn predict voting behavior. In a diverse community sample acquired online, our hypotheses were not broadly supported, in that the Dark Triad and demographics did not interact to predict political beliefs or behaviors. Rather, we found that the Dark Triad and political beliefs interacted to predict voting behavior in the 2016 presidential election such that among those with liberal beliefs, the Dark Triad had little effect, but among conservatives the effect was stronger. Specifically, conservatives higher on the Dark Triad were less likely to have voted for Donald Trump than those lower on the Dark Triad. We speculated that this result is due to the conformity component of the Dark Triad.
Frishberg, Nathan A. S., "Is Self-interest at the Root of Political Behavior? An Examination of the Effects of Dark Personality and Demographics on Political Beliefs and Actions" (2018). Dissertations. 4.