Brexit and the relevance of regional personality traits: more psychological Openness could have swung the regional vote

Harry Garretsen, Janka I. Stoker, Dimitrios Soudis, Ron Martin, Peter Jason Rentfrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article adds a psychological perspective to help explain the regional Brexit vote. Based on an extensive dataset with personality traits, combined with socio-economic data, our findings suggest that the regional clustering of these personality traits contribute to an understanding of the regional dispersion of the Brexit vote. We find evidence that psychological ‘Openness’ is the personality trait that matters most and that modest changes in this trait could actually have swung the vote across UK districts. Moreover, the relevance of psychological Openness solves the puzzle that UK districts that are relatively dependent on trade with the EU predominantly voted for Leave. By including psychological factors, our results show how we can arrive at a better understanding of the geography of the discontent with globalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165–175
Number of pages11
JournalCambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5-Feb-2018


  • Brexit
  • Big Five personality traits
  • economic integration
  • globalisation
  • BIG 5

Cite this