The 2016 US presidential elections was a very interesting chain of events. The election were followed by almost everyone around the globe with each person having a different personal opinion. These events when looked at from the social psychology point of view show that a variety of social psychology theories are applicable to it. The most prominent of these theories were Prejudice, Cognitive Dissonance, Hindsight bias, conformity and Persuasion.Persuasion is the act of justifying or convincing other person of a belief.
There are two routes two persuasion. The first route, is the central route to persuasion, in which a person given a belief does not directly believe it but, looks at the information available to support the belief and comes up with a logical explanation for it and questions the belief repeatedly. Until all the questions have been answered and the person totally satisfied does he actually believe in it.
This is the slow route to persuasion. The second route is the peripheral route to persuasion in which the person does not think analytically about the content of the message but rather focus on the superficial aspects. Donald Trump’s campaign is regarded as one of the most superficial campaigns and was appealing to most people in the US as they focused on the small superficial aspects of it. Donald Trump throughout the campaign did not have well-structured arguments, did not have a sound plan of how he was going to run the country and prayed on the minorities of the country and showed prejudice against them. He also lied on numerous occasions throughout the campaign and his scandals were showcased everywhere by the media. Despite the information available on his lies and scandals, people liked him and supported him because they did not focus in the details of his message but rather on how he appealed as a man.
This could be attributed to similarity, where the person listening to the message from the source person is able to finds ways in which he is similar to the source and since we all like ourselves, leads to the liking of the source person. This liking of the message source makes things more believable and makes us overlook the finer details of the message. And since most of his supporters were white just like him were able to attribute this similarity. That’s why Donald Trump appealed to voters who could relate to his speech, views and race. Donald trump throughout out his speeches also maintained a mid-level of fear, as low level and higher levels would not be as appealing and would just shut down the message. The way he maintained this fear was by repeatedly mentioning about how the white supremacy is diminishing due to the increase in the number of immigrates in the United States. He fed into these fears even more by encouraging stereotypes. For example, he constantly discussed about Mexicans stealing American jobs and how they are criminals, and characterized Muslims as dangerous – both fuelling pre-existing fears of the “other” among White Americans.
(O’Conner and Marans, 2016) This fed into an overlying fear of immigrants present among Americans. Group dynamics played an important role in the outcome of the election since majority of the voters were white and more often male. These white people were involved in group think and were able to emphasize group cohesiveness. There are three primary symptoms of groupthink that Trump supporters seem to have engaged in. First, the illusion of invulnerability, wherein the group believes that they are invincible together and consequently behave belligerently. Second, their belief in the moral correctness of their group has served to justify their blatant racism and sexism. Third, Donald Trump’s supporters have all developed stereotyped views of the outgroup, and largely created an “us” versus “them” scenario with non-white groups.
For example, 67% of Trump supporters who reported to Politico said that they dislike Muslim-Americans, feeding into the view that Muslims are terrorists or “them”. (Gass, 2016) Cognitive dissonance is the tension that arises when one is simultaneously aware of two inconsistent cognitions. Dissonance might occur when a person realizes that he has, with little justification, acted contrary to his attitudes or made a decision favouring one alternative despite reasons favouring the other (G. Myers, 2013). After the elections, the majority of the anti-supporters of Donal Trump had a taste of cognitive dissonance. The original cognition that they had was one in which it was highly unlikely for Donal trump to win the elections and become president. These people suffered from dissonance and rejected their original cognitions. To reduce dissonance most of these people came up with new cognitions such as Donald Trump would not be able to stay long on the presidency.
But after a few months as President Donald trump settled in to his presidency and there was no case in which he would be impeached these anti-supporters then again were suffering from dissonance. So, most of them changed their dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent. This newly developed cognition without the dissonance changed the behaviour of several of Donald Trump’s anti-supporters to reflect this cognition. This cognitive dissonance example above is not only valid for the US elections but for elections in every country where the runner’s up candidate supporters go through this process of developing new cognitions to remove inconsistency.
Hindsight bias, also known as knew-it-all-along effect, refers to how after the passing of an event, the things that occurred seem so predictable without having any solid objective before the event occurred of predicting it. This can be easily applied to the elections. Many people before the election had a variety of opinions about the current US president Donald Trump and thought that because of his unconventional beliefs, odd personality and biased opinions he was unlikely to succeed in the elections. But after the results were out, these exact same people who thought that it was unlikely for Donald Trump to succeed suddenly saw it coming without having any good reason for it. Hindsight bias is the most easy to fall for bias as we don’t see it coming and as social creatures with a high thinking capability we don’t like ourselves to be wrong.The 2016 presidential evets were certainly an interesting chain of events and its results have certainly affected the world balance as after Donald trump being elected the president.
And when these events are viewed from a psychological point just explains a lot of the feelings, thinking and behaviours of the people. ReferencesGass, N. (2016, February 26). Poll: 67 percent of Trump voters dislike American Muslims.
Retrieved November 17, 2016, from http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/02/donald-trump-voters-dislike-american-muslims-219877Myers, D. G. (2013).
Psychology. New York: Worth .O’Conner, L., & Marans, D. (2016, February 29). Here Are 13 Examples Of Donald Trump Being Racist | The .
.. Retrieved November 19, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83