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Home | News | Marc van de Wardt receives Vidi research grant
News | July 21, 2023

Marc van de Wardt receives Vidi research grant

Faculty member Marc van de Wardt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) has been awarded an 800,000 euro Vidi research grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for his research on the role of personalities in politics.

Marc van de Wardt receives Vidi research grant
Steps of a ladder

With the Vidi funding, he aims to answer the question of which personalities succeed or fail in politics. The selection process that politicians go through can be visualized as a ladder. At the bottom of the ladder, it begins with the ambition of citizens to become candidates for a political office. At the top of the ladder, it involves the political survival of those who have reached the top: national politicians. At each step of the ladder, there are individuals who do or do not have the ambition to climb further, and individuals who succeed or fail. How do they differ from each other in terms of personality?

Van de Wardt will investigate the personalities of citizens, local politicians, and national parliamentarians using the HEXACO personality model from psychology. This model posits that personality consists of six dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, and honesty-humility. Van de Wardt specifically emphasizes the latter aspect as "crucial, as it is the best predictor of unethical behavior." Van de Wardt states, "Existing research on the characteristics of politicians focuses almost exclusively on demographic background characteristics. And the scarce research that does consider personality usually does not include virtue-related characteristics such as honesty-humility."

Influence on society

"Doing this research is crucial right now," says Van de Wardt. "Not only is trust in politics very low, but trust in politicians is also poor. Boundary-crossing behavior in politics has been in the news a lot. The virtue-related personality traits that I will measure lower the threshold for this type of behavior. This is why it is important to gain insight into the personality of politicians." Van de Wardt will also examine which personality traits citizens prefer to see in politicians. Do the politicians who rise through the selection process possess these traits? Are there differences between political parties?


This interdisciplinary research applies personality models from psychology to politics. Van de Wardt will measure these models using questionnaires. Additionally, his team will code the personality of politicians from a distance based on short videos. Finally, he will train an algorithm to estimate personality based on political speeches. "Aristotle argued that a politician should be moderate, friendly, and humble. Now we also have the measurement tools to determine if they are," Van de Wardt explains.

Comparative analysis across countries

The selection process of politicians and the characteristics that citizens find desirable will be examined in the Netherlands and several other European countries. Are there differences between countries regarding the personal traits that citizens desire and the politicians who succeed?
With the Vidi funding, Van de Wardt will assemble a team consisting of a PhD student and a postdoc. He is grateful for the trust placed in him and looks forward to sharing his findings with the scientific community and society.


Vidi is aimed at researchers who have already conducted successful research for several years after their PhD Vidi, together with the Veni and Vici grants, is part of the NWO Talent program. The NWO has awarded 97 experienced researchers an 800,000 euro Vidi funding.


Marc van the Wardt is Associate Professor at the School of Business and Economics within the department 'Ethics, Governance and Society' of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research focusses on electoral competition, the emergence of new parties and survival of parties, political careers and political psychology. Van de Wardt is a lecturer in the research master program in Business Data Science and teaches the course 'Human Resource and Organizational Behavior Analytics.'

Source: website of SBE Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam