Thursday, June 09, 2011

Mormons and personality

Personality differences across religious affiliation is interesting. Let's use MIDUS data to look at Mormons (sample size = 3,960, 76 Mormons).

Mean scores

Extraversion
Mormons 2.98
Others 3.10

Negative emotionality
Mormons 2.06
Others 2.09

Agreeableness
Mormons 3.42 
Others 3.45

Conscientiousness
Mormons 3.40
Others 3.49

Open to experience
Mormons 2.86
Others 2.90

There are no significant differences. It turns out that, in terms of personality, Mormons are boringly the same as everyone else. (I hypothesized that they would be more agreeable, more conscientious, and less open to experience. I was wrong on all counts.)

12 comments:

sykes.1 said...

Well, if you average Harry Reid, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck and Brigham Young, you get a pretty big standard deviation

bgc said...

On the other hand, if Utah = Mormons:

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2008/09/personality-variation-by-region-usa.php

But IF your individual level data are correct (and individual data must be superior to state level averages), and Mormons really do have the same personality as other religions, YET Mormons behave very differently than adherents to other religions (essentially Mormons behave much better) - then that means that Mormonism itself must be extremely effective at producing good behaviour, regardless of who converts to it.

Well done Mormons! (Yet again).

Steve Nicoloso said...

I hypothesized that they would be more agreeable, more conscientious, and less open to experience. I was wrong on all counts.

I would have guessed the same. But maybe Mormons have a self-deprecation factor that needs to be controlled for.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised they didn't score higher on conscientiousness. My Mormon students (I live in CA) are always big on that trait.

BTW, Ron, it's disturbing to me that clicking on your blog, I have seen from Google several ads for gay dating over the last week. I expect to see that stuff elsewhere, but I consider some blogs to be "gay-free zones," yours, for example.

Like everyone else, I am bombarded by it elsewhere...and quite frankly, have begun to grow less and less passive about it.

Not your fault, I know. Just getting it off my chest.

SFG said...

BTW, Ron, it's disturbing to me that clicking on your blog, I have seen from Google several ads for gay dating over the last week. I expect to see that stuff elsewhere, but I consider some blogs to be "gay-free zones," yours, for example.

It's the stupidity of Google Ads. He does averages of gay personality traits, Google sees the word 'gay' keep coming up, and voila. Steve Sailer used to have lots of ads for immigration lawyers. ;)

I say do Jews next, you could use the extra traffic ;)

bgc said...

Thinking about this makes me realize how limited in value self-rated personality is turning out to be when questionnaires are applied across heterogeneous populations.

But perhaps there might be a possibility of controlling (to some extent) for differences in self-evaluation.

For example, a measure of *self-esteem* might be introduced as a control variable - to see what effect this had.

I would not be surprised if self-esteem was inversely correlated with conscientiousness (for example).

One could then compare people of equal-self esteem for the level of conscientiousness, and this might reveal differences obscured by the uncontrolled analysis.

Maybe Mormons have lower self-esteem, and therefore a tendency to under-rate their conscientiousness.

This certainly looks as if it might be the case for East Asians who seem to combine lower self-esteem with higher conscientiousness; with the result that (in some studies) East Asians rate themselves lower in C than other nations - which obviously *can't* be right!

Anonymous said...

If you go to this site (http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2008/09/personality-variation-by-region-usa.php) you can see the questions that were used. Some of them don't especially seem to bear on the supposed trait. The first commenter seems to nail it pretty well.

Openess seems to mean how liberal are you, suggesting that Mormons, at least within the limits of the question, are not politically out of the mainstream as much as people think.

Steve Setzer said...

Interesting. As one who converted to Mormonism at almost 17 years of age, and later moved to Utah, these results seem pretty reasonable to me. The Mormon folks I know exhibit about the same range of personalities that I see in most places. (In-jokes about "all Mormons have OCD" notwithstanding...)

SFG said...

"Openess seems to mean how liberal are you, suggesting that Mormons, at least within the limits of the question, are not politically out of the mainstream as much as people think."

Eh...openness is interest in aesthetics, arts, intellectual curiosity, etc. It's not the *same* thing as liberalism, though there's certainly a correlation between the two things.

Joel said...

My guess is that our views of typical Mormons are derived from committed Mormons. However, a majority of self-identified Mormons do not take their religion very seriously (e.g., about 50 to 60 percent do not even attend church). In this they do not differ much from anyone else. I wonder if committed Mormons differ in personality from committed members of other churches.

Anonymous said...

SFG--If you'll actually look at the questions, they refer to legalization of abortion, marijuana and same sex marriage, as well as interest in the arts and sciences (both high among Mormons). The first three surely show an openness to liberalism.

As the first commenter said "Openness” should be something like “unconventionality” or “countercultureness” or “urban hipness”--none of which would likely describe most Mormons, but none of which are necessary for an interest in science or music.

Read the questions. None of them seem to have much bearing on the traits they're supposed to discern.

Jim Bowery said...

In the 60s Jews showed up in the Society of Friends to fuck the girls. Guys like me whose families had been there for centuries left for obvious reasons. The same kind of thing has been happening to the LDS since at least the 80s but involves Latinos in a much bigger role. Teen girl descendant of one of the original 12 apostles dealing black tar heroin for a latino gang -- personal anecdote.