Personality In Politics

Personality In Politics

I really liked Matt Bruenig's piece on how the form and content of people's political persuasions are perhaps better mapped on separate axes:

A better way to think about this may be that how a particular person approaches their political advocacy is just a (mostly) separate thing from the content of their political advocacy. In simplified terms, you find people who want to feel like they are unique, fringe, and an embattled minority and people who want to feel normal, mainstream, and common-sensical. These different desires sometimes drive people to one or another political viewpoints but they also manifest themselves in rhetorical and presentational choices within each political viewpoint.

This is a point I've tried to draw out before e.g. here and here: people's politics do not always align with certain other personal characteristics and we have a tendency to confuse those things. This seems to be because we feel like certain characteristics should be affiliated with one tendency or another, because we have a tendency to believe others think more similarly to us than they actually do, or because we just don't want to believe anything good of people who have such fundamental disagreements with us.

This isn't to say that I don't think that personality has any impact on policial beliefs—if you want a deeper and more idiosyncratic (but utterly fascinating) dive into how politics is affected by factors outside of beliefs, principles and material interest, have a listen to Fight Like An Animal, which goes into huge amounts of depth and detail on the topic of the biology of politics, not all of which I've listened to yet, but the first three episodes should give you a pretty good overview.

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