Donald Trump’s Brilliant Manipulation of the Science of Group Conflict
By Sean Ransom (https://psmag.com/donald-trumps-brilliant-manipulation-of-the-science-of-group-conflict-7883f908198a#.2zbhkebch)
The science around human conflict proposes five characteristics that promote conflict among groups. Illuminating!
- Confidence in One’s Superiority: Trump constantly broadcasts a message that he and his followers are superior to other Americans, whereas those who oppose him are “stupid” and deserve to be punched in the face. His own followers’ violent acts are excused as emanating from “tremendous love and passion for the country.”
- Claims of Unjust Treatment: Trump is obsessed with the concept of fairness, but only when it goes his way. Given his presumed superiority, it naturally follows that the only way he and his supporters could fail is if injustice occurs.
- Fears of Vulnerability: Accordingly, Trump has overtly stated that he believes the presidential election will be rigged. His supporters believe him. In one recent poll, only 16 percent of North Carolina Trump supporters agreed that if Clinton wins it would be because she got more votes.
- Distrust of the Other: Trump and his supporters routinely claim that the media, government, educational institutions, and other established entities are overtly undermining Trump, his supporters, and their values. To many Trump supporters, merely being published or broadcast by a major news outlet is evidence that a fact is not credible, given the certainty they have that media professionals are conspiring against Trump.
- A Sense of Helplessness: When Trump allows that it’s possible that he might lose the election because of fraud, conspiracy, or disloyalty, he taps into his followers’ sense of helplessness. No matter how superior he and his followers truly are, no matter how unjustly they are treated, there is little that they can do in the face of a nation-wide plot against him. Accordingly, many of Trump’s most ardent supporters will see the impending rejection of their candidate not as a corrective experience to lead them to reconsider their beliefs, but as further evidence that they are helpless in the face of a larger, untrustworthy outgroup.