Personality Traits and Individual Attitudes toward Same-Sex Marriage in Taiwan
臺灣的人格特質與個人對於同性婚姻的態度
  • 10

          Assistant Professor  Wang, Ching-Hsing       Department of Political Science, NCKU

          *This article is mainly based on our paper entitled “Personality Traits and Individual Attitudes toward Same-Sex Marriage: Evidence from Taiwan” that is accepted for publication in Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

          On May 17, 2019, Taiwan’s legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill to make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan is mainly attributed to the ruling of Constitutional Court on May 24, 2017 that the statutory ban on same-sex marriage in Taiwan’s Civil Code violated both the people’s freedom of marriage as protected by Article 22 and the people’s right to equality as guaranteed by Article 7 of the Constitution. The anti-marriage equality group had attempted to resort to referendums to repeal the Constitutional Court’s ruling and the results of referendums on November 24, 2018 showed that same-sex marriage rights and LGBT-inclusive education in schools were rejected by Taiwanese voters. Nevertheless, the results of referendums failed to overturn legislation of same-sex marriage in Taiwan. While some Taiwanese people are very glad to see that same-sex marriage is finally legalized, it seems that the majority of Taiwanese people are not ready to accept legislation of same-sex marriage given the results of referendums. Furthermore, a survey we conducted immediately after the 2018 local elections also demonstrated that more than half (52.9%) of Taiwanese people do not support legislation of same-sex marriage.

          Why do the majority of Taiwanese people hold negative attitudes toward same-sex marriage? Although same-sex marriage has been a particularly salient social issue in recent years in Taiwan, little scholarly attention has been paid to the determinants of individual attitudes toward same-sex marriage. Past studies in the United States and European countries have indicated that the level of personal contact with homosexual people, attitude toward traditional morality, religion, and demographic factors such as education, gender and age have significant influences on public opinion about homosexuality. Different from previous research, we attempted to understand individual attitudes toward same-sex marriage in Taiwan from the perspective of personality. Since personality can shape individuals’ thinking and behavioral patterns and play an important role in individuals’ interactions with other people and reactions to external stimuli, numerous studies have employed personality to examine individual political attitudes and behavior. Besides, it is documented that genetics plays a major role in personality formation and personality is generally stable over the life span. Therefore, scholars have assumed that personality is causally prior to any specific attitudes or behaviors. While there are many different dimensions of personality, psychologists have agreed that individuals’ personalities can be described by five basic dimensions named as the Big Five personality traits which can be summarized as follows: (1) extraversion is the tendency to be energetic and outgoing and seek stimulation and the company of others; (2) agreeableness is the tendency to be compassionate, cooperative, considerate and sympathetic; (3) conscientiousness is the tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; (4) emotional stability is the tendency to be calm, even-tempered, and less likely to feel tense or rattled; and (5) openness to experience is the tendency to be creative, imaginative, curious and open to new ideas.

          To examine the relationships between the Big Five personality traits and individual attitudes toward same-sex marriage in Taiwan, we fielded a telephone survey in 2017 after the ruling of Constitutional Court. We found that the trait of agreeableness has a negative effect on support for same-sex marriage. That is, people with higher levels of agreeableness are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage. Besides, conscientiousness and openness to experience have heterogeneous effects on individual attitudes toward same-sex marriage for people of different ages. That is, a higher level of conscientiousness is positively associated with support for same-sex marriage among younger people, but is negatively correlated with support for same-sex marriage among older people. Similarly, a higher level of openness to experience would lead to increased support for same-sex marriage for younger people, but would result in decreased support for same-sex marriage for older people. Overall, we provided empirical evidence that personality as an endogenous factor (i.e., individual psychological factor) could provide some explanatory power for individual attitudes toward homosexual rights.

          Some might worry about the above results because personality traits are mainly due to genetic influences and relatively stable over time. That is, once people are high on some personality traits that are linked to negative attitudes toward homosexuals, they might not change their attitudes toward homosexual rights. However, we should not be so pessimistic because people with different personality traits might interact with external environment to change their attitudes toward homosexual rights. Therefore, as social atmosphere changes, people with different personality traits might adjust their attitudes toward homosexuals.

          Figure 1. The Effect of Agreeableness on Support for Same-Sex Marriage


          Figure 2. The Heterogeneous Effect of Conscientiousness on Support for Same-Sex Marriage by Age

          Figure 3. The Heterogeneous Effect of Openness to Experience on Support for Same-Sex Marriage by Age

          *此文內容主要來自於我們發表在Sexuality Research and Social Policy 期刊的論文「Personality Traits and Individual Attitudes toward Same-Sex Marriage: Evidence from Taiwan」。

          2019年5月17日臺灣的立法院通過同性婚姻法案,使得臺灣成為第一個同性婚姻合法化的亞洲國家。臺灣同性婚姻合法化主要歸功於大法官會議2017年5月24日的釋憲判決,其認為臺灣民法中對於同性婚姻的法律禁止違反憲法第22條所保障的婚姻自由以及第7條所保障的平等權。反對婚姻平權團體嘗試透過公民投票來廢止大法官會議的判決,而2018年11月24日的公民投票結果顯示,臺灣選民反對同性婚姻權利以及在學校實施性別平權教育。儘管如此,公民投票的結果並無法推翻臺灣的同性婚姻合法化。雖然一些臺灣民眾樂於見到同性婚姻最終被合法化,鑒於公民投票的結果,似乎大多數的臺灣民眾尚未準備好接受同性婚姻合法化。此外,我們在2018年地方選舉後立即執行的一項調查中也顯示,超過半數(52.9%)的臺灣民眾並不支持同性婚姻合法化。

          為何多數的臺灣民眾對於同性婚姻抱持負面的態度呢?雖然同性婚姻近幾年在臺灣成為一個重要的社會議題,但是卻很少有學者關注影響個人對於同性婚姻態度的因素。過去歐美的研究已經指出,個人與同性戀者的接觸程度、對於傳統道德的態度、宗教,以及人口特徵,如教育程度、性別和年齡,會對個人對於同性戀者的態度產生顯著的影響。不同於過去的研究,我們嘗試透過人格的觀點來瞭解個人對於同性婚姻的態度。由於人格可以形塑個人的思考和行為模式,並且在個人與其他人的互動以及回應外在的刺激上扮演著重要的角色,許多研究已經利用人格來檢視個人的政治態度和行為。另外,亦記載基因在人格形成上扮演著主要的角色,以及人格在人生過程中往往是穩定的。因此,學者認為人格在因果關係上早於任何特定的態度和行為。雖然人格可以包含許多不同的面向,但是心理學者同意個人的人格可以被五個基本面向所描述,稱為「人格五大特質」,摘要如下:(一)外向性:有活力的、外向的,以及尋求他人的鼓舞和陪伴;(二)親和性:有同情心、合作的、體貼的,以及憐憫的;(三)嚴謹性:自律的、有責任感的,以及具有目標性;(四)情緒穩定性:平靜的、性情穩定,以及較不容易感到緊張或擔憂;(五)開放性:有創意的、有想像力的、好奇的,以及接受新的想法。

          為了檢視在臺灣人格五大特質和個人對於同性婚姻態度之間的關係,我們在2017年的大法官釋憲判決之後進行了一項電話調查。我們發現親和性對於同性婚姻的支持具有負面的影響,亦即親和性愈高的民眾愈可能反對同性婚姻。此外,嚴謹性和開放性對於不同年齡的民眾的同性婚姻態度具有異質性的影響,亦即對於較年輕的民眾,高嚴謹性和支持同性婚姻具有正向的關係,但是對於較年長的民眾,高嚴謹性和支持同性婚姻則是具有負向的關係。同樣地,對於較年輕的民眾,高開放性可以增加對於同性婚姻的支持,但是對於較年長的民眾,則是降低對於同性婚姻的支持。整體而言,我們提供了經驗證據顯示,人格作為一項內生性因素(即個人心理因素)可以對個人對於同性權益的態度提供一些解釋力。

          有些人或許會擔心上述的結果,因為人格特質主要受到基因的影響以及隨著時間的推移具有相對穩定的特性。換言之,一旦人們在某些與對同性戀者持負面態度的人格特質上有較高的傾向時,他們可能不會改變其對於同性權益的態度。然而,我們不應該如此悲觀,因為具有不同人格特質的民眾可能經由與外在環境的互動,進而改變其對於同性權益的態度。因此,隨著社會氛圍的改變,具有不同人格特質的民眾可能會調整其對同性戀者的態度。