I spent the morning at my local watering hole...a quasi bar/grill/coffee shop...that serves my far flung rural neighborhood. Today the place was quite a bit more crowded than usual for a weekday morning. Why? The PRESIDENT was going to declare a NATIONAL EMERGENCY and HIS PEOPLE were there to make their support clear. There were about 50 people. Retirees, farmers. the unemployed, and the self employed. They hoped to see the free-wheeling, unbound CAMPAIGN TRUMP and that is what they got.
If you saw the event you know how insane it all was. He dodged his own announcement and then undermined the logic of it. He made wild claim after wild claim. He cited events (like generals who said keep their budget building funds, being told by Pres. Obama that he nearly went to war with N. Korea, and much more) that never happened. He was antagonistic and insulting to his predecessors, the Congress (both parties), and the press.
AND THE CROWD CHEERED at the watering hole.....CHEERED, CHATTERED AND CHOMPED AWAY at this "unbelievably great speech." I sat at a back table and there a few others in the room who appeared to be doing what I was doing....skeptically watching the performance and then taking in the crowd.
How does one explain this?
What is The Psychology Behind Donald Trump's Unwavering Support
Research explains why the support holds up despite shocking behavior.
Trump appears to be almost totally bulletproof.
For the supporters of Trump in their eyes, The Donald can do no wrong. Remember t his claim uttered by Trump in his campaign (in a way that indicated that even he found the phenomenon unbelievable): "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible."
Senator John McCain, who was a regular target for Trump during his campaign, had a simple explanation for his unwavering support. “What he did was he fired up the crazies.”
What is the psychological and neurological science behind this?
What is going on in the brains of the Trump Basers that makes them so blindly devoted?
1. The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Trump as Font of Wisdom
Some believe that many of those who support Donald Trump do so because of ignorance — basically they are under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand. When Trump tells them that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, that caravans of violent, drug dealing gang members are heading for the border to pour into the U.S. or that the economy is the best it ever has been and that he is the aker of that economy, they simply take his word for it.
The seemingly obvious solution would be to try to reach those people through political ads, expert opinions, and logical arguments that educate with facts. Except none of those things seem to be swaying any Trump supporters from his side, despite great efforts to deliver this information to them directly.
The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed;
a) It’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed. This creates a double burden. First, they have to come to the realization that they lack knowledge. They generally lack the capacity to do this. Essentially, they’re not smart enough to realize they’re dumb.
b) By and large they are also under the illusion that they have sufficient or even superior knowledge than those who are trying to get them to see another point of view.
c) They also have identified THE SOURCE of TRUTH as a particular HERO who has been called to lead them to better place based on his/her wisdom and vision.
d) The result is a multi-layered filter through which they observe the world.
then they have no reason to defer to anyone else’s judgment. This helps explain
Out of immense frustration, some of us may feel the urge to shake a Trump supporter and say, “Hey! Don’t you realize that he’s an idiot?!” No. They don’t. That may be hard to fathom, but that’s the nature of the Dunning-Kruger effect — their ignorance is completely invisible to them and your challenges are further proof that it is you who is stupid.
2. Neurological Hypersensitivity to Threat: Trump as Savior
A lot of the behavior of those backing Trump appears to be wired into their brain function! Scientific studies have shown that the "conservative" brain has an exaggerated 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. A brain-imaging study published in Current Biology revealed that those who lean right politically tend to have a larger amygdala — a structure that is electrically active during states of fear and anxiety. And a 2014 fMRI study found that it is possible to predict whether someone is a liberal or conservative simply by looking at their brain activity while they view threatening or disgusting images, such as mutilated bodies. Specifically, the brains of self-identified conservatives generated more activity overall in response to the disturbing images.
So how does this help explain the unbridled loyalty of Trump supporters? These brain responses are automatic, and not influenced by logic or reason. As long as Trump continues his fear mongering by constantly portraying Muslims and Mexican immigrants as imminent dangers, many conservative brains will involuntarily light up like light bulbs being controlled by a switch. Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with remarks that would normally be seen as highly offensive.
3. Terror Management Theory: Trump as Prophet of Doom
A well-supported theory from social psychology, called Terror ManagementTheory, explains why Trump’s 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. In order to manage this terror, humans adopt cultural world views — like religions, political ideologies, and national identities — that act as a buffer by instilling life with meaning and value and provide the first line of defense against "the enemy."
Terror Management Theory predicts that when people are reminded of their own mortality, which happens with fear mongering, they will more strongly defend those who share their world views and national or ethnic identity, and act out more aggressively towards those who do not. Hundreds of studies have confirmed this hypothesis, and some have specifically shown that triggering thoughts of death tends to shift people towards the right.
Not only do death reminders increase nationalism, they influence actual voting habits in favor of more conservative presidential candidates. And more disturbingly, in a study with American students, scientists found that making mortality salient increased support for extreme military interventions by American forces that could kill thousands of civilians overseas. Interestingly, the effect was present only in conservatives, which can likely be attributed to their heightened fear response.
By constantly emphasizing existential threat, Trump creates a psychological condition that makes the brain respond positively rather than negatively to bigoted statements and divisive rhetoric. Liberals and Independents who have been puzzled over why Trump hasn’t lost supporters after such highly offensive comments need look no further than Terror Management Theory.
4. High Attentional Engagement: Trump as Spellbinder
According to a recent 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 messages clearly resonate at a visceral level.
Essentially, the loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction with entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With 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 anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained.
5. Embracing Chaos for Change: Trump as Provocateur/Agent
And then there those who are intelligent people who know better, and are supporting Trump to be rebellious, to introduce chaos into the system, or to broaden their power, or increase their wealth. Or they may have such distaste for the establishment and Hillary Clinton that their vote for Trump is a symbolic middle finger directed at Washington.
So what can we do to potentially change the minds of Trump loyalists?
Cognitive neuroscientists have said that there may be nothing we can do. The overwhelming majority of these people may be beyond reach, at least in the short term. Fortunately, it appears that those who fall into the cadre of those most likely to follow Trump are, for the time being anyway, still a minority of the overall population.
The best that can be done is to motivate everyone else to get out to the booths and check the box that doesn’t belong to a narcissistic nationalist or his supporter who have the potential to damage the nation beyond repair.
For More Info See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/magazine/archiv...