How political is the personal? Gender differences in the level and the structure of political knowledge

Marc Hooghe*, Ellen Quintelier, T. Reeskens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this research note we report on the results of an experimental study among 469 respondents in Belgium. The study shows that the familiar gender differences in political knowledge can be substantially reduced when including more questions on female politicians. Using confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory measurements, we can observe that the structure of political knowledge is identical for women and men implying that women and men do not have different conceptions of what constitutes the political domain. Both for women and men, "personal items" (in this case: The correct name of the new baby of the female vice-prime minister) were shown to load strongly and one dimensionally with the more traditional institutional political knowledge questions. It seems that women and men respond in the same manner to information about the personal lives of politicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
JournalJournal of Women Politics & Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • political knowledge
  • gender differences
  • Belgium
  • scale reliability
  • public/private

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