With Political Psychology, 2016 Doesn’t Look So Crazy
First Person Politics founder David L. Rosen has a new piece in Campaigns and Elections looking at the seemingly crazy politics of 2016.
For many people, this cycle looks a little bonkers. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are not the sorts of candidates any of us are used to seeing in the top tier of the presidential race, much less as front runners. While the politics of 2016 may not be rational, it is explainable with a little help from political psychology.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Speaking of psychological metrics, it appears that authoritarianism is the single best predictor of support for Donald Trump, more than any other demographic trait such as education, income, gender, age, religiosity or ideology as pollsters traditionally measure it. As I have argued for years, right wing authoritarianism is one of the two major psychological pillars of political ideology. While there a number of validated methods for measuring it, the authoritarian spectrum measures a) preference for strict social norms, b) obedience to traditional authorities, and c) support for aggressive or coercive measures to enforce conformity and submission.
But political movements filled with authoritarians are not necessarily led by fellow authoritarians. Far more often, these movements are led by strongmen with high levels of social dominance orientation, the second major psychological pillar of ideology.
Read the rest at Campaigns and Elections. Those who have followed our work know that right wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO) are the two psychological domains at the heart of all political ideology. These two domains, together, form what political psychologists call the dual process model of ideology and they give rise to nine instincts that drive political attitudes and behaviors.
The dual process model explains a lot of what’s happening in American politics today, including the central conflicts between the parties as well as the major ideological cleavages within both parties, especially the GOP. You can watch our seminar about it here.
Public opinion researchers ought to be measuring RWA and SDO any time they conduct a political poll, because these two domains go a long way toward explaining what’s driving public opinion — and how to change it.