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    Moonshots or a cautious take-off? How the Big Five leadership traits predict Covid-19 policy response

    Brown, L. and Horvath, Laszlo and Stevens, D. (2021) Moonshots or a cautious take-off? How the Big Five leadership traits predict Covid-19 policy response. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 31 (S1), pp. 335-347. ISSN 1745-7289.

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    The Covid-19 crisis has been truly worldwide and has unfolded almost simultaneously across the globe. In order to control its spread and alleviate its impact governments have been faced with a range of policy options in terms of containment and closure, ramping up healthcare, and mitigating its economic effects. In this paper, we explore the stringency as well as the speed of policy response as a function of leaders’ personality traits, accounting for party-political orientation. To do this, we construct a text corpus composed of 26 country leaders’ rhetoric on Covid-19 collected from 10 days before the first recorded death in their respective countries until 90 days after, and use a pre-trained machine classifier to generate the Big Five personality traits for each leader. We find two general patterns: (1) one around neuroticism, a trait associated with negative stress response, which is associated with leniency in containment and health policy measures; and (2) some evidence that conscientiousness, a trait associated with risk aversion, is associated with quicker policy response. We conclude by suggesting analysis on the sub-national level in order to increase test power, and more work on validation linking our estimates of Big Five to expert ratings of personality.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Laszlo Horvath
    Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2021 16:51
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:12


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