Preference for Realistic Art Predicts Support for Brexit

Contributors:
  1. Anthony Heath

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Description: Following the UK’s EU referendum in June of 2016, there has been considerable interest from scholars in understanding the characteristics that differentiate Leave supporters from Remain supporters. Since Leave supporters score higher on conscientiousness but lower on neuroticism and openness, and given their general proclivity toward conservatism, we hypothesized that preference for realistic art would predict support for Brexit. Data on a large nationally representative sample of the British population were obtained, and preference for realistic art was measured using a four-item binary choice test. Controlling for a range of personal characteristics, we found that respondents who preferred all four realistic paintings were 15-20 percentage points more likely to support Leave than those who preferred zero or one realistic paintings. This effect was comparable to the difference in support between those with a degree and those with no education, and was robust to controlling for the respondent’s party identity.

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