Reviews | Trump’s true believers have their reasons

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In his email, Womick expanded on his work: “The idea is that perceptions of insignificance can lead to a process of finding groups, approving their ideologies and adopting behaviors compatible with them. “

These ideologies, continued Womick,

should eventually promote a sense of importance (because insignificance is what made the person approve of the ideology in the first place). Approval of right-wing authoritarianism relates to a higher meaning of life, and people’s exposure to authoritarian values ​​causally reinforces the meaning.

In Race and Authoritarianism in American Politics, Christopher Sebastian Parker and Christopher C. Towler, political scientists from Washington University and Sacramento State, make a parallel argument:

Limiting the definition of authoritarianism to regime rule, however, leaves little room for a discussion of more contemporary authoritarianism, at the micro level. This review focuses on an assessment of the concept of authoritarianism in political psychology and how it ultimately leads to racism. Ultimately, we believe there is a tangible link between racism and authoritarianism.

Taking a distinct but complementary approach, David C Barker, Morgan Marietta and Ryan DeTamble, all political scientists, argue in “Intellectualism, Anti-Intellectualism, and Epistemic Hubris in Red and Blue America” that

Epistemic hubris – the expression of unwarranted factual certainty “is” widespread, bipartisan, and associated with both intellectualism (an identity marked by habits of rumination and self-learning) and anti-intellectualism (negative affect towards intellectuals and the intellectual establishment).

The division between intellectualism and anti-intellectualism, they write, is

clearly partisan: intellectuals are disproportionately Democrats, while anti-intellectuals are disproportionately Republicans. By implication, we suggest that the intellectualism of Blue America and the anti-intellectualism of Red America contribute to the intemperance and intransigence that characterizes civil society in the United States.

Further, according to Barker, Marietta and DeTamble, “the growing intellectualism of Blue America and the anti-intellectualism of Red America, respectively, may partly explain the tendency of the two to view the other as a mixture. of density, dupe and dishonesty. . “

In an email, Marietta wrote:

The evidence is clear that the pride driven by intellectual identity and the pride driven by anti-intellectual affect diminish our willingness to compromise with those who seem lacking in character and honesty. I suspect the division of perceptions, but unanimity in pride, fuels the growing belief that democracy is failing and that, therefore, undemocratic or illiberal policies are justified.

Marietta reports that he and his colleagues

conducted a series of experiments to see what happens when ordinary citizens are confronted with others who have conflicting perceptions of reality about things like climate change, racism or the effects of immigration. The results are not pretty.

Once they realize that other people’s perceptions are “different from theirs,” Marietta continued,

Americans are much less likely to want to be with them in the workplace and much more likely to conclude that they are stupid or dishonest. These inclinations are symmetrical, with liberals rejecting conservatives as much (or sometimes more) as conservatives rejecting liberals. The disdain that arises from intellectual identity seems to reflect the disdain that arises from anti-intellectual affect.

I asked Barker about the role of pride in contemporary polarization and he replied:

The populist right hated the intellectual left because they hate being patronizing, they hate what they perceive to be their hypersensitivity, and they hate what they see as an anti-American level of femininity (which is for some reason associated with intellectualism ).

At the same time, continued Barker,

the intellectual left really does see the GOP as a bunch of deplorable rubes. They feel absolutely superior to them, and they are constantly revealing this on Twitter and elsewhere – pissing off the “deplorable” even more.

In other words. Barker wrote,

The populist / anti-intellectual right absolutely believes that intellectuals are not only disconnected but also godless and devious, and therefore believe they must be stopped before they ruin America. Meanwhile, the intellectual left truly believes the Trumpers are racist, sexist, homophobic (and so on) authoritarians who cannot spell and will destroy the country if they are not arrested.

What is a critical factor in the development of pride? Moral convictions, the authors reply: “The most morally committed citizens are also the most epistemic citizens of pride”, that is to say, they are the most inclined “to express absolute certainty as to the truth or falsity “claims” for which the hard evidence is unclear. or contradictory.

Moral conviction plays a key role in the work of Clifford Workman, postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics at the University of Pennsylvania. Workman, Keith J. Yoder and Jean Decety, write in “The Dark Side of Morality – Neural Mechanisms Underpinning Moral Convictions and Support for Violence” that “People are motivated by shared social values ​​which, when held with a conviction moral, can serve as mandates capable of facilitating support for ideological violence.


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