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Published January 1, 2000 | public
Journal Article

Uncertainty and Candidate Personality Traits


Due to the high level of uncertainty in the electorate about candidate issue positions, many scholars believe that voters instead use simpler cues such as personality traits to evaluate candidates. However, information about candidate personality traits is also subject to uncertainty. Using a new direct survey measure of uncertainty included in the 1995 and 1996 National Election Studies, we examine the effect of trait opinions on candidate evaluations and test the effect that uncertainty about those opinions has on the use of traits in an evaluation. We find that uncertainty about a candidate's personality traits reduces both the use of opinions about that candidate's traits in evaluations of that candidate and the overall evaluations of that candidate

Additional Information

© 2000 Sage Publications, Inc. First Published January 1, 2000. Authors'Note: This article was prepared for presentation at the annual meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association; we thank John Brehm and Charles Franklin for their comments. An earlier version of this research was presented in January 1996 to the National Election Studies (NES) Board of Overseers and was titled "Survey Measures of Uncertainty: A Report to the NES Board on the Use of 'Certainty' Questions to Measure Uncertainty About Candidate Traits and Issue Positions."

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