DOI: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000414 ISSN: 1614-0001

Civic-Mindedness Is More Than Personality

Joseph C. Van Matre, René Bekkers, Mariëtte Huizinga, Arjen de Wit
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • General Psychology

Abstract: Many colleges and universities have embraced the goal of increasing students’ civic-mindedness. The research associated with theorizing and measuring civic-mindedness, however, has thus far progressed in a silo away from the established literature of personality psychology. This paper bridges this gap – adopting civic efficacy and service motivation as two measures of civic-mindedness – and examines how well they are explained by the five-factor model of personality (FFM). Using survey data from undergraduate students at a large, public research university, we estimated a structural equation model to measure personality traits from the FFM, service motivation, and civic efficacy. Results showed that variation in personality accounts for approximately 40% of the variation in Service Motivation and 53% of the variation in Civic Efficacy, which does not support a clear assertion that either construct can neatly be categorized as a facet of the FFM. Our findings provide an additional theoretical basis for community service learning courses and other educational opportunities that blend traditional pedagogical strategies with experiential and reflective opportunities aiming to produce change across state-like and trait-like attributes.

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