Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: Adaptive Personality Inventories for Measuring Need for Cognition and Need to Evaluate

Recent scholarship in political science has increasingly emphasized the role of personality traits in explaining public opinion and political behavior. This research has greatly expanded our understanding of how personality fundamentally structures decisionmaking, attitudes, and learning. However, political science literature has only scratched the surface in understanding the ways in which personality traits shape attitudes and behavior and how traits are in turn affected by political events. One explanation for this failure is surely that most established personality inventories contain far too many questions for inclusion on surveys. Standard practices in social and cognitive psychology result in evaluative batteries containing dozens or even hundreds of question items. For example, Cacioppo and Petty (1982) originally proposed a 40-item battery to measure need for cognition. Later, they proposed an “efficient” battery containing 18 questions chosen from the original 40 Cacioppo and Petty (1984).

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