Direct Democracy, Personality, and Political Interest in Comparative Perspective

Freitag, Markus; Zumbrunn, Alina (2022). Direct Democracy, Personality, and Political Interest in Comparative Perspective. Politics, 026339572210748. Sage 10.1177/02633957221074897

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For many, direct democracy is said to increase political interest. To date, however, empirical findings regarding this relationship remain inconclusive. In this article, we claim that this inconclusiveness can be partly ascribed to the diverse effects that direct democracy has on individuals. In other words, direct democracy influences political interest, but how and to what degree depends on an individual’s personality traits. Running hierarchical regression models with survey data from random samples of eligible American and Swiss voters, we arrive at the following three conclusions: First, in both countries, the use of direct democracy is not directly connected to political interest. Second, the Big Five personality traits affect the interest in politics. Third, neuroticism, in particular, alters the relationship between direct democracy and political interest, suggesting that a certain personality type is likely to be more sensitive to popular votes, and a vibrant democratic environment can help to inspire interest in politics for people who, because of their personality, tend to be detached from it. Quite intriguingly, these relationships hold irrespective of the country and research period.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Freitag, Markus and Zumbrunn, Alina


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Arno Raoul Rothenbühler

Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2022 17:13

Last Modified:

10 Apr 2022 02:06

Publisher DOI:





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