Instead of overreacting to Trump Supporters or calling them idiots or deplorables, maybe we should examine scientific reasons that explain their support of him.
Whoever you support, please try to read this objectively. I firmly believe it will help us all understand each other and be more open in our conversations.
I hope you can.
For some, it’s simply a financial matter. Trump offers tax cuts for the rich and wants to do away with government regulation that gets in the way of businessmen making money, even when that regulation exists for the purpose of protecting the environment. Blue-collared workers, like the fact that the president is trying to bring jobs back to America. Some people simply want stronger immigration laws because they know that a country with open borders is not sustainable. These people have put their practical concerns first.
- Trump Engages The Brain’sAttentionSystem Better Than most
According to a study that monitored brain activity while participants watched 40 minutes of political ads and debate clips from the presidential candidates, Donald Trump is unique in his ability to keep the brain engaged. While Hillary Clinton could only hold attention for so long, Trump kept both attention and emotional arousal high throughout the viewing session. This pattern of activity was seen even when Trump made remarks that individuals didn’t necessarily agree with. His showmanship and simple language clearly resonate with some at a visceral level.
- Americans Love Entertainment and Celebrities
Essentially, the loyalty of some Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction to entertainment and reality TV. With the Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive things he says.
- A Rebellion Syndrome?
Some people are supporting Trump simply to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the political system. They have so much distaste for the establishment and democrats like Hillary Clinton that their support for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington
- The Fear Factor:
Science has shown that the conservative brain has a greater fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening. A 2008 study in the journal Science found that conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images compared to liberals. These brain responses are automatic and not influenced by logic or reason. Fear keeps his people energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with offensive and divisive remarks.
- Perceived Existential Threat
A well-supported theory from social psychology, known as Terror Management Theory, explains why fear mongering is doubly effective. The theory is based on the fact that humans have a unique awareness of their own mortality. The inevitably of one’s death creates existential terror and anxiety that is always residing below the surface.
When people are reminded of their own mortality, which happens with fear mongering, they will more strongly defend those who share their national or ethnic identity and act out more aggressively towards those who do not.
Not only do death reminders increase nationalism, they may influence voting habits in favor of more conservative presidential candidates.
By constantly emphasizing existential threat, Trump may be creating a psychological condition that makes the brain respond positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric.
- Overestimation of Political Expertise
The under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand. When told tells that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, or that the economy is the worst it’s ever been, they simply take it as true.
Often the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed, which creates a double burden.
- A Misguided Sense of Entitlement
If someone feels they are being deprived of something to which they believe they are entitled, the discontent felt when they compare their position in life to others who they feel are equal or inferior but have unfairly had more success than them has an adverse effect.
There is no doubt that some Trump supporters are simply angry that American jobs are being lost to Mexico and China, which is certainly understandable, although they may ignore the fact that some of these careers are actually being lost due to the accelerating pace of automation. These Trump supporters are common among the swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
- Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others
Contact with members of groups that are outside one’s own has been experimentally shown to reduce prejudice. As such, it’s important to note that there is evidence that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans.
10. National CollectiveNarcissism
Collective narcissism is an unrealistic shared belief in the greatness of one’s national group. It often occurs when a group who believes it represents the ‘true identity’ of a nation — the ‘in group,’ perceives itself as being disadvantaged compared to outgroups who are getting ahead of them ‘unrightfully. Donald Trump exacerbates collective narcissism with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric. By referring to his supporters, an overwhelmingly white group, as being “true patriots” or “real Americans,” he promotes a brand of populism that is the epitome of “identity politics,” a term that is usually associated with the political left.
11. The Desire for Social Hierarchy
Social dominance orientation refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance over the low-status ones. They are typically dominant, tough-minded, and driven by self-interest.
12. Authoritarian Personality
Those with this personality believe in obedience to authority and often display aggression toward outgroup members, submissiveness to authority, resistance to new experiences, and a rigid hierarchical view of society. Authoritarianism is often triggered by fear, making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or fear monger to gain their allegiance.
Those 13 reasons have been adapted from a “Psychology Today” Article.
I know some people would say that article is biased because it is in that publication, but I stand with the science of it. Science was good enough before Trump and will become good enough when he is no longer president.