Political Business

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Study: Politicians more extroverted

A New Zealand study has found that its politicians are more extroverted than the general population.  

A Myers-Briggs-based questionnaire by BlacklandPR of all current MPs and 30 former MPs found that 31% of respondents were strongly extroverted while just 12% were strongly introverted.  57% were ‘amibiverts’ – people with varying levels of the traits.

That compares with studies that show that among the general population, extreme introversion or extroversion is found in 25% of the public respectively.

The split between introverts and extroverts in the general population is 49.5 / 50.5% respectively. The split among New Zealand MPs is 41% / 59% respectively.

The survey also found that 77% of politicians claimed to have more close friends than the average person.

BlacklandPR Director, Mark Blackham, said that most politicians were very similar to the general population.

“Like most of us, politicians are a mix of things; there are times that they enjoy social contact, and times they like being alone or with close friends and family.

“For example, 71% of respondents preferred being home than at public events, and 82% would choose to spend time with a partner, family or a friend than with large numbers of people.

“Politicians place highest priority on life at home – 71% preferred being at home than at public events.”  

Introversion and extroversion describe traits identified in many theories of personality. Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved and introspective. Extroverts tend to enjoy talking, and gain energy from social interaction. It is thought that everyone has elements of introversion and extraversion, but tend to lean one way or the other.

“Politicians may appear boisterous and unashamed, but they clearly suffer from the same insecurities as the rest of us.  Half of them worry about what people think of them at least ‘sometimes’, and 30% regularly worry about it. Fewer than 20% claim to be unworried by other people’s attitudes.”

The survey was conducted between the 5th and 15th of March 2013. Current and former MPs were asked 25 questions chosen from the Myers-Briggs personality testing system.  The poll was answered by 22% of recipients.  Their names were anonymous to the system, but included 2 Party Leaders, 3 Cabinet Ministers, and 8 MPs ranked in their caucus top 10 (current or former).

Filed under introvert extrovert pyschology political psychology study political research

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The dubious value of political science

Should political research by funded by the Government?

Washington Post editorial argues that in a time of budget cuts, the lack of “science” in political science is a luxury we can live without.

Though quantitative methods may rule economics, political science and psychology, these disciplines can never achieve the objectivity of the natural sciences. Those who study social behavior — or fund studies of it — are inevitably influenced by value judgments, left, right and center. And unlike hypotheses in the hard sciences, hypotheses about society usually can’t be proven or disproven by experimentation. Society is not a laboratory.

The NSF’s budget includes $247.3 million for social sciences. At a time of trillion-dollar deficits, and possible cuts to defense, food stamps and other vital programs, this is a luxury we can live without. Cut the NSF’s entire social science budget. Use half the savings for hard science and the rest to reduce the deficit.

In my professional life, and out of sheer interest, I would miss the research (less the analysis) that political science delivers.

But my personal interest is a niche obsession, and my professional interest is for the commercial gain of clients, and the political gain of politicians.

It perplexes me that working politicians generally eschew the political science for the transient thinness of polling and focus groups. They don’t make sufficient use of the output of political science.

Anyway, I’m not sure how to argue that any of that is to the wider benefit of society.

If politicians themselves under-value political science, there’s precious few people left to  arguing for State funding. Then, who else would fund it?

It seems to me that those who do benefit from political science - such as lobbying strategists and political advisers like myself, and our clients - should consider setting up political research funding Trusts.

Filed under political science political scientists state funding political research