Essays on Anger, Personality, and American Political Behavior Restricted; Files & ToC

Webster, Steven (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/37720c74n?locale=en
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Abstract

American politics in the 21st century is largely defined by heightened levels of anger and negativity. Yet, existing studies have done little to understand the ways in which anger and its associated personality dimensions combine to shape patterns of political behavior. In this dissertation, I present a series of studies illustrating the ways in which anger, as well as an individual’s broader personality profile, affect patterns of political behavior and public opinion. In the first chapter I link the Big Five personality traits to the development of negative partisanship within the American electorate, with a particular focus on the role of Extraversion and Agreeableness. In the second chapter I utilize a new measure of anger, derived from clinical psychology, to show how individuals whose personality profile predisposes them to be angry differ from their more pacific counterparts. Finally, in the third chapter I employ an experimental design to show how heightened levels of both political and incidental anger cause a reduction in individuals’ trust in government. Taken as a whole, this dissertation provides compelling evidence that anger plays a powerful role in explaining contemporary mass political behavior.

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