Charismatic leaders, provocateurs, or drunken dinner guests?
Personality reputation of populist and non-populist candidates worldwide
12 June 2018, h. 13.00
Speaker: Alessandro Nai (University of Amsterdam)
Discussant: Mauro Barisione (University of Milan)
SPS Seminar Room (Room 215, II floor, via Passione side)
Dipartimento di Scienze sociali e politiche
Via Conservatorio 7, Milano
It is common to describe populists as bad-mannered provocateurs disrupting the political game, but also as charismatic leaders able to persuade and motivate the masses. Very little evidence exists however that populists differ from non-populists in terms of character or perceived personality. We present in this article a first systematic comparison of perceived personality traits (Big Five and Dark Triad) of populists and non-populists, based on expert ratings for 104 candidates having competed in 47 elections worldwide (including 22 populists). Controlling for several covariates at the candidate and context levels, we find that populists are significantly less likely to be perceived as agreeable, conscientious and emotionally stable, but more likely to be perceived as extraverted. Furthermore, populists score high in perceived narcissism and psychopathy, and (partially) on Machiavellianism. These results have important implications for the study of the success (or lack thereof) of populists in modern democracies.