Open Borders and Personality Bleg
By Bryan Caplan
What personality types are most likely to support open borders? Since almost no one in the First World favors open borders, we shouldn’t expect to find common personalities that typically support open borders. It’s conceivable, though, that rare personalities typically favor open borders. And it’s probable that some common personalities are unusually likely to embrace this contrarian view.
In the absence of more specific evidence on personality and beliefs about immigration, I revert to the general Five Factor Model result that extroverted, disagreeable (=Myers-Briggs “Thinking”), conscientious, stable, closed personalities lean toward free-market positions. However, low openness also correlates with low appreciation of foreigners, so I’m only confident about the first four patterns.
What about the personalities of immigration activists? I’m unaware of any data, so I can only speculate. My guess: Advocates of the moderate pro-immigration view that Vipul Naik calls “territorialism” tend to be very Feeling. However, advocates of full-blown open borders and hard-line restrictionists are both probably very Thinking. Despite our differences, Steve Sailer and I are the kind of people who place logical consistency above social acceptability.
If Thinking vs. Feeling doesn’t distinguish open borders advocates from restrictionists, what does? Open borders advocates are probably higher in openness than restrictionists. The big difference, though, is on neuroticism (=the reverse of emotional stability).
Restrictionists strike me as high in anxiety and very high in anger – two of the key facets of neuroticism. Open borders advocates strike me as low in anger and very low in anxiety. I don’t mean this as an ad hominem attack, but a simple description of fact. Indeed, if you think that anger and anxiety about immigration are warranted, you could easily dismiss open borders advocates as deluded Pollyannas.
To repeat, though, this is mere guesswork on my part. Please share whatever insight – or evidence – you have to offer. If possible, express your views using standard terminology from personality psychology.
HT: The admirable Vipul Naik