Chris Mooney is at it again (damn, this guy sure knows how to do an all-out multi-media assault for a new book– perhaps I should take note), yesterday with a nice Op-Ed in the Post. This particular version concentrates on a couple of “Big 5” Personality traits and how they are related to political ideology. I found this particular part most interesting:
Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called “openness to experience,” one of the “Big Five” personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots — and new ideas.
“Open people everywhere tend to have more liberal values,” said psychologist Robert McCrae, who conducted voluminous studies on personality while at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.
Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open — less exploratory, less in need of change — and more “conscientious,” a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change — in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’ ”
I read this and thought, “whoa, that’ s not me” for the liberal description (and anybody who knows me well would surely think the same thing). Generally, I don’t like change. I find something I like and I stick with it. Perhaps, this is why I’ve always felt like I was a liberal with a conservative personality. Anyway, a little more investigation of this “openness to experience” dimension and some on-line tests, and I’m actually above average after all. Looks like I get credit for liking new ideas and culture in general (e.g., books, art, etc.). I guess I’m more open to experience than I realized. I’m just not the least bit spontaneous and it really depends upon the experience.