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The Effect of Politicians’ Personality Traits on Their Media Visibility

Mon, May 29, 11:00 to 12:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 206


While being frequently covered in the news media is key to political success, previous literature demonstrates that some politicians are systematically more visible in the media than others. These studies explain variations in media visibility using either institutional factors, such as holding an influential political position, or specific behavioral indicators, such as activity in parliament. The current study advances our understanding of the newsworthiness of politicians by exploring their core personality traits as determinants of their media visibility. Utilizing a sample of 339 incumbent politicians in three countries (Belgium, Canada and Israel), we find that two of the Big Five personality traits—Agreeableness and Extraversion—significantly predict media visibility. Our analysis finds that, holding all else constant, politicians who are less agreeable (i.e., more critical and quarrelsome) and more extraverted appear more frequently in the news. The contribution of these results to political communication and personality psychology literature is discussed.