Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Trump, power, immigration, election, narcissism, voters
Previous research has attempted to explain the results of the 2016 presidential election, and has concluded that a jaded and anxious electorate propelled Trump to the White House. The current research examines what psychological processes might have been at play. When people feel powerless in their day-to-day lives but are made to feel powerful it leads to behavior that goes against standard moral beliefs (e.g., supporting a presidential candidate who makes offensive comments that one might not explicitly endorse). I hypothesize that a feeling of powerfulness among a subset of the population used to feeling powerless will increase their support for Trump. Participants were randomly assigned to feel either powerful or powerless, and then took ‘support for Trump’ surveys. The hypothesis was partially confirmed. Men, but not women, who were felt powerless in their day-to-day lives, but were made to feel powerful in the context of the study were most likely to support President Trump. The research therefore provides evidence that some Trump voters were motivated to vote Trump based on how powerful he made them feel.
Stekler, Nathaniel, "Power for the Powerless: How Donald Trump Used Voters’ Anxieties to Win in 2016" (2020). Honors Theses. 2456.