Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version

October 2006


Emotions help people navigate political environments, differentiating familiar situations where standard operating procedures are suitable from unfamiliar terrain when more attention is needed. While previous research identifies consequences of emotion, we know less about what triggers affective response. In this paper, we investigate what role personality has in the operation of the systems of affective intelligence. Using experimental data as well as responses from the 2000 and 2004 American National Election Studies, we first consider whether personality affects the activation of emotional response. Next, we explore the degree to which citizen attitudes like openness to information and compromise are explained by personality characteristics and subconscious emotional response. Finally, we consider the implications of these results for our normative understanding of democratic citizenship.