Personality and Partisan Polarization


This week's guest, Christopher Federico, is co-author (along with Christopher Johnston and Howard Lavine) of one of the most illuminating books I've ever read in the field of political psychology, "Open Versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution." The American electorate is divided by geography, but also personality. "Open Versus Closed" explores the ways in which personality differences do and don't predict our political views. Christopher and I talk about all that good stuff an more, including a discussion that I found really interesting about the extent to which rising prosperity is inherently polarizing because it reveals and amplifies our natural differences simply by making it easier for us to realize our capacities and select into professions and communities filled with people like us. We also explore whether its easier to extend respect and empathy across ideological and partisan lines when you believe that people generally aren't personally responsible for their personalities or political opinions.

Christopher Federico is Professor of Political Science and Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He's the Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Political Psychology and Vice President of the International Society of Political Psychology.


Open Versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution by Christopher Federico, Christopher Johnston and Howard Lavine

"The Personality Basis of Political Preferences" by Christopher Federico

"The contingent, contextual nature of the relationship between needs for security and certainty and political preferences: Evidence and implications" by Christopher Federico and Ariel Malka

Christopher M. Federico at Google Scholar

Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason

"How racially resentful working-class whites fled the Democratic Party — before Donald Trump" by Michael Tesler


Host: Will Wilkinson (@willwilkinson)

Audio engineer: Ray Ingegneri

Music: Dig Deep by RW Smith

Model Citizen is a production of the Niskanen Center (@niskanencenter)

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