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Trump Supporters Appear More Interested in Power And Wealth Than Altruism, Study Suggests

Could personality traits have predicted the 2016 election?

CARLY CASSELLA
20 MAR 2018
 

Earlier this month, we ran an article about how certain personality traits, like neuroticism, are strongly linked to Trump voters. Now, it seems as though personal values might have also played an important role in America's support for Trump.

 

A new study has revealed that while Trump supporters appear to have little interest in altruism, they do seek power over others, are motivated by wealth and prefer conformity.

"While all presidential elections are important in terms of their consequences, the 2016 primary season seemed particularly unusual in no small part because Donald Trump — a well known real-estate mogul and celebrity — was leading the Republican Primary," said author of the study Ryne A. Sherman, an associate professor at Texas Tech University.

"Although most pundits gave him no shot at winning, he continued to perform well in the primary elections. Thus, I wondered — who is supporting Donald Trump?"

By analysing the results of an online survey of 1,825 American adults, Sherman discovered Trump supporters tend to share similar values.

Unsurprisingly, it was found that people with values similar to Trump's values were more likely to vote for Trump.

"Values are key drivers of human behavior and represent our philosophy on life," Sherman explained to PsyPost. 

"As a result, we tend to like people (and organizations) that share our values."

 

So, what are some of the personal values that Trump supporters share?

Well, the study found that a Trump value profile is characterized by low altruism in combination with high power, high commerce and high tradition. 

In other words, Trump supporters have little interest in social welfare, but they do have strong desires to make money, take risks financially and uphold social traditions.

Most Trump supporters, for instance, agreed with statements like "People who are poor just need to work harder", "In life, winning is the only thing that matters", "A company's main focus should be profits", "Art shows are boring", and "Dress codes are good and should be followed strictly".

On the other hand, Trump supporters tended to disagree with statements like "Building relationships is more important than building profit", "Happiness is more important than money", "Protestors are the most patriotic citizens", and "Applying the scientific method is the best way to discover the truth".

"This study demonstrated that shared values (i.e., values perceived to be shared with Donald Trump) were a key driver of support for Donald Trump during the primary," the study concluded.

 

"This was true of both Republicans and Democrats, regardless of political ideology."

But before you start accusing your Trump-supporting neighbor of hating social welfare programs, or your liberal friend of despising successful wealthy people, let's acknowledge the limitations of this study.

While the study is certainly a good indicator of what future research can explore, it is by no means conclusive.

"This was an internet sample and not necessarily representative of the US population," Sherman explained. 

"Thus, the generalizability of this finding may be questionable. Despite this, the study did measure attitudes and values from more than 1,800 adults from every state in the US."

"It would be interesting to have measured similar attitudes and values regarding other primary candidates, including Hillary Clinton," he added.

"Perhaps future studies should consider doing this."

The findings were published in Personality and Individual Differences.