Previous explanations of mass participation have often focused on sociodemographic characteristics to the neglect of social psychological factors. This study takes a new path in thinking about the role of psychological factors in participation. Specifically, we hypothesize that individual propensities regarding conflict will influence the likelihood of participating in political affairs. We develop more specific expectations for how the avenue of participation interacts with individual propensities toward conflict to influence participation. Using secondary analysis of the Citizen Participation Study (CPS), we show that conflict avoidance is significantly and inversely related to participation in some kinds of activities, consistent with our expectations. Thus, both individual propensities and the political context influence participation. This study provides a new understanding of which individuals participate in political affairs and which avenues they choose. This suggests a need to reconsider the role of psychological factors in models of participation.
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