9 Essential Psychology Lessons to Understand the Age of Trump • Good Assurance


In January 2017, when the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, had tried to pretend that President Donald Trump's inauguration was the most-watched in history, she was talking about the beginning of the day. a new dark era of political and public life.

As he matured, the Trump era of conservative politics is increasingly defined by his tribalism and fear and the fracking of our sense of a shared reality.

And it's quite disorienting.

I spent a lot of time in the past years reports on political psychology, asking the country's leading experts on human behavior a variant of "What the hell is going on in the United States?" They deliver often.

Here are the social science lessons I keep coming back to, to help explain what's happening in America at the time Trump. You may find them useful too.

  • Rooting for a team changes your perception of the world.
  • We can be immune to uncomfortable facts.
  • Leaders like Trump have special powers to influence public opinion.
  • People do not often make decisions based on the truth.
  • Political opponents are often very, very bad to argue.
  • The fear of whites being replaced is a powerful political motivator.
  • It is incredibly easy to become insensitive to collective suffering.
  • False news affects our biases – and will be very difficult to eliminate.
  • Conspiracy theories can be generalized, but they constitute a specific reaction to a dark and uncertain world.

You may notice an uncomfortable theme that our leaders, the groups in which we were born and, increasingly, our echoing media ecosystems can bring out the worst psychological prejudices that exist in all of us.

In other words, no one, be it Democrat or Republican, is intrinsically stupid. "At the end of the day, we are all human beings and we use the same psychological processes," says Dominique Brossard, a communications researcher at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Consider this as an introduction to what news and politics can bring out in the human mind. And be warned: it's not always pretty.

A version of this piece originally published in March 2017. This has been updatedre reflect the news, the new studies and other reports that I have made since.

1) Motivated Reasoning: Rooting a team changes your perception of the world

Psychology has been called "the hardest science"Because the human mind comes with so many messy inconsistencies. Even the best researchers can lose it. Moreover, it can take decades to establish a psychological theory, which could be demolished in one month with new evidence. But despite its flaws, psychology remains the best scientific tool we have to understand human behavior.

The key psychological concept for understanding politics, and one of the oldest, is reasoned cognition, or reasoned reasoning. It often means that the rooting of a team changes our perception of reality.

In the 1950s, psychologists noted how fans of two football teams came to very different conclusions about who was the fault for the rough game, despite the fact that the fans were watching exactly the same sequence. The psychologists concluded that it was as if the two groups of fans were watching a different match.

Our teams are lenses through which we interpret the world. In a newer experience, the researchers showed participants a video of an event that had been stopped by the police. Half of the subjects were told that it was an abortion clinic. The other half was told that this was a protest against the army's policy of not asking, not saying.

Those inclined to defend the right to abortion thought that protesters further disrupted the state of the abortion clinic. People with strong egalitarian ideals were more likely to express their support for protesters for LGBTQ rights. Again, it was exactly the same footage. All that changed was what the participants thought of the protesters.

A crucial thing to know about reasoned reasoning is that you often do not realize that you are doing it. We recognize more quickly the information that confirms what we already know, which makes us blind to facts that ignore them.

This may be the reason why being part of a team makes us more inclined to believe and remember false news. In a 2013 study, the Liberals were more likely to remember (falsely) President George W. Bush on vacation with a celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005. The Conservatives were more likely to say that they remembered President Barack Obama who had shaken the hand of the incoming Iranian President).

And this can lead us to rationalize the absurd logic. Consider how the President of the Family Research Council, a Conservative Council, suggests to Trump to get a "Mulligan"For his alleged connection with a porn actress.

When the status of our teams changes, so do our opinions. When Gallup interrogates Americans, week before and after the presidential election, Democrats and Republicans reversed their perception of the economy, even if nothing had really changed regarding the economy. What has changed is what team was winning. The country's economic outlook suddenly seemed much better for Republicans once their candidate won.

We are so inclined to see the world against us that psychologists begin to see people manifesting group bias when they are randomly assigned to arbitrary "blue" and "red" teams in an experiment.

But the fact that our group preferences are formed so quickly means that they are also easily changed: we start to see people in a more positive light if we start to think of them as a fellow countryman. "We are not wired to hate or [be] hostile to external groups, "says Mina Cikara, a neuroscientist who studies group biases at Harvard University. "All these processes are flexible."

2) Evolution has probably left us with an ideological immune system that fights uncomfortable thoughts

Javier Zarracina / Vox

There is a reason why we engage in a reasoned reasoning, a reason why facts matter little: evolution.

The human spirit is a smart tool. We used it to send rockets to the moon and invent wonders like pizza and air conditioning. But why did we develop such intelligence in the first place?

A hypothesis: We have become so smart to cooperate in groups. Since then, we have adapted these skills to make breakthroughs in areas such as science and mathematics. But when we are in a hurry, we use by default our intellectual faculties to protect our groups.

From this perspective, reasoning is an adaptation that helps us connect with others and our survival. It helps the members of our group to share a common reality. It guides us to favor the people we consider "us" and to avoid the people we consider "them".

It also forces us to avoid uncomfortable facts that could harm our groups. You can see this immune system in action. It's a "motivated ignorance" and psychologists can see it working in real time.

An experience in 2017 published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology presented participant participants with two options. They could either read and answer questions about an opinion they subscribed to (the subject was same-sex marriage), or read the opposite view. If participants chose to read the notice they agreed with, they were entered into the draw to win $ 7. If they chose to read the opposing opinion, they would have a chance to win $ 10.

You would think everyone would like to win more money, no? More money is better than less money.

No. A majority – 63% – of the participants chose to stick to what they already knew, avoiding the chance of winning $ 10. "They do not know what's going on on the other side and they do not want to know," said Jeremy Frimer, the psychologist who led the study at the University of Winnipeg, in an interview.

In another test, Frimer and his colleagues essentially asked participants to indicate to what extent they were interested in discovering different political views in relation to activities such as "dry watching," "staying quiet," " go for a walk on a sunny day "and" have a tooth pulled. "

The results: listening to a political opponent is not as bad as getting a tooth pulled, but it's going in the same direction. It is certainly more horrible than walking around.

This is an essential point that many people miss when it addresses the problem of "false news" or the "filter bubble" in our online media ecosystems. Avoiding facts that disturb our worldview is not simply a passive and unconscious habit in which we engage. We do it because we find these facts really unpleasant. They insult our groups and, by extension, we. We reject these facts, as our immune system would reject a pathogen.

"The primary responsibility of the brain is to take care of the body, to protect it," said Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Southern California. m said in a 2017 interview. "The psychological ego is the extension of the brain of this. When our self feels attacked, our [brain is] will put in place the same defenses as the one he has to protect the body. "

And here is one last point of blockage that keeps people out of the facts. It is often not the facts themselves that people fear and avoid. This is where they lead.

This is called "Aversion to the solution" and it helps to explain why many conservatives are wary of the science of climate change; many solutions to climate change involve increased government oversight and regulation. Likewise, it is perhaps for this reason that so many Trump supporters discredit the FBI's investigation of Russia's interference. The possible conclusion that the Trump election has been tampered with by outside influences is troubling.

3) Leaders like Trump have tremendous power to influence public opinion

We are motivated to believe what our groups believe. In the Trump era, public opinion was deeply upset.

The rise of Donald Trump in particular coincided with remarkable changes in the minds of Republicans.

In 2015, only 12% of Republicans had a favorable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Gallup. In February 2017, the company found that 32% of Republicans liked it despite growing worries. this Russia had campaigned to influence the elections.

In 2014, according to a YouGov survey, 9 percent Republicans regarded Russia as a friend or ally of the United States. At the beginning of 2018, this figure was 23%.

Or take the question of free trade: Historically, the Conservatives have been in favor of that. But from 2015 to 2017, Republican support for free trade fall from 56% in 2015 to only 36% in 2017, according to Pew.

Researchers have long wondered whether changes in public opinion go from top to bottom: the supporters are content to follow the instructions of their leaders. Or bottom up: that leaders are trying to reflect the ideology of their supporters. The Trump era has provided us with good evidence that the "follow the leader" effect is real.

In January 2017, two political scientists from Brigham Young University designed an experiment to take advantage of the fact that, apart from a few problems such as immigration, trade and reluctance to denigrate Russia, Trump has little coherent political ideas. They wondered: would Trump's supporters follow him wherever his political whims would go? So, right after the inauguration, they conducted an online experiment with 1,300 Republicans.

The study was quite simple. Participants were asked to indicate whether they supported or opposed policies such as raising the minimum wage, the nuclear deal with Iran, restrictions on abortion, history of firearms owners, etc.

One-third of the participants read statements that Trump supported a liberal position, such as this one:

Please indicate whether you support or oppose the statement.

Increase the minimum wage to more than $ 10 at the hour. Donald Trump said he supported this policy. What would you say you? Do you support or oppose raising the minimum wage to more than $ 10 an hour?


S & # 39; oppose

Do not know

The control group of the experiment saw these questions, but did not mention Trump. Another part of the experiments tested what happened when it was said that Trump supported conservative policies.

When participants learned that Trump supported a liberal policy, his supporters were also more likely to support it. They followed their leader. "The conclusion we should draw is that the public, the average Republican sitting in America, will not prevent Trump from doing what he wants," said Jeremy Pope, co-author of the book ;study. The effect has even remained true on the issues of immigration. If Trump supported a lax immigration policy, his supporters said they were doing it as well.

Past experiences with Liberal participants found a similar effect: Liberals are more likely to support conservative politics when told that their leaders support conservative politics. And it's possible that when people change their minds that way, they're not even aware that their minds are changing.

You do not have to look too far into the news to know that Trump is particularly good at polarizing the audience. Just look at what happened when he started attacking the NFL teams and players last fall for kneeling during the national anthem. Almost overnight, Trump supporters began to express strong negative feelings about the league. Yes, it is conservative Americans who express their aversion to football. Hard to imagine in a previous time.

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The conclusion to be drawn from all of this: Although Trump remains a largely unpopular president, he still has tremendous power to influence the opinions of millions of people who support him.

But it is also important not to exaggerate the powerful effect it has on the minds of Trump's voters. It is not as if they have been totally brainwashed, their previous convictions replaced by the whims of their leader.

The truth is that many people do not think very often, or very deeply, about politics (besides you, dear Vox reader). When faced with a difficult question such as "What can I think of tax policy," we often substitute it for a simpler question: "What could my party's leaders say about tax policy?

It's a cognitive shortcut. And we use them all.

"These shortcuts can be a political ideology. it could be religiosity, respect for scientific authority, "says Dominique Brossard, a communications researcher at the University of Wisconsin. "We rely on organizations and institutions to make sense of it."

Do not forget that you can be both biased, predisposed to believe climatologists on global warming, and correct.

4) People can understand impractical facts. But it's very difficult to give them importance.

Here is good news: it's possible use fact checking to encourage people to believe in the truth. The bad news is that people do not make fact-based decisions.

In a recent experiment, political scientist Brendan Nyhan and his colleagues found that Trump's supporters were willing to admit that Trump distorts the facts. "But that did not have much effect on how they felt about him," Nyhan said.

So facts can interfere, but they do not always change our behavior and our opinions. Let this sink in.

In fact, studies have shown that people who know more political facts are more likely to be stubborn and partisan. We do not use our intelligence to discover the truth. Instead, "people use their reason to be socially competent actors," says Dan Kahan, psychologist at Yale. In other words: we are under a lot of pressure to meet the expectations of our groups. And the more intelligent we are, the more we use our brains to this end.

In his studies, Kahan will often give participants different types of math problems.

When the problem involves non-political issues, such as whether a drug is effective, people tend to use their math skills to solve it. But when they evaluate something political – say, the effectiveness of gun control measures – mathematical knowledge no longer matter. On these political questions, the knowledge of mathematics makes the bias of the partisans more likely. "The more intelligent the person, the more stupid politics can make it," Ezra Klein has explained in a profile of Kahan's work.

And it's not just for math problems: Kahan finds that Republicans who have levels of scientific knowledge are more stubborn when it comes to climate change issues. The trend is the same: the more information we have, the more we adapt to our political goals.

This is another point where the debate on "false news" is wrong: it is not true that if only people had perfectly true information, everyone would suddenly agree.

5) It is very difficult to change the mentalities of political opponents by arguing with them.

The answer to polarization and political division is do not simply exposing people to another point of view.

Recently, researchers from Duke, NYU and Princeton ran an experiment where they paid a large sample of Twitter users Democrats and Republicans to read more opinions from the other side. "We have not found any evidence that social media contact between groups reduces political polarization," the authors wrote. Republicans participating in the experiment became more and more conservative during the test. The Liberals in the experiment have become very slightly more liberal.

A psychological theory called "moral fundamentals" can help explain why our arguments often fail dramatically in case of change of mind.

The moral foundations are the idea that people have a stable morality, in guts, which influences their world view. Liberal moral foundations include equality, equity and the protection of vulnerable people. The moral foundations of the Conservatives promote loyalty within the group, moral purity and respect for authority.

Moral foundations explain why messages emphasizing equality and fairness make sense in Liberals and why more patriotic messages like "Make America great" attract conservative hearts.

Consider the endless debate on gun control. Liberals argue in favor of restricting access in terms of protecting vulnerable people and injustice (ie it is not normal for so many Americans to live in fear of armed violence). The Conservatives, on the other hand, base their cause on self-determination (that is, I should be able to protect myself).

The fact is that often we do not realize that people have moral bases different from ours. When we engage in political debates, we all tend to overestimate the power of arguments that we find personally convincing – and mistakenly believe that the other side will be influenced.

In one study, psychologists Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg wrote about 200 participants in the conservative and liberal study to convince political opponents to accept same-sex marriage or to make English the official language of the United States .

Almost all participants made the same mistake.

Only 9% of Liberals participating in the study presented arguments reflecting conservative moral principles; Only 8% of Conservatives put forward arguments that could influence the Liberals. No wonder it is so difficult to change another person's mind.

The bottom line: It is helpful to be empathetic when arguing with another person.

6) The fear of whites to be replaced is a powerful motivator

In August 2017, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, were not ashamed when they shouted, "You will not replace us" and "The Jews will not replace us".

At first glance, their fear – the replacement – is absurd. Whites (especially white men) were the dominant political and economic class of Americans before the founding of this country.

But they seem to really feel that way. In April 2017, a team of psychologists obtained an online survey of a sample of 447 unidentified litigants (albeit those involved in the Charlottesville rally) and conducted them through a series of psychological investigation questions. They then compared the right-handed alt to an online sample of 382 non-right-handed people.

The survey found that just right-handers were much more concerned about the fact that their internal groups were at a disadvantage compared to the control sample. L & # 39; alt-right is afraid to be moved by a growing number of immigrants and foreigners in this country. Yes, they see themselves as potential victims.

It is easy to think that these fears are odious and only concern the marginalized. But they also exist, to a lesser extent, among the general population and among people who might not consider themselves racist.

These fears of strangers, substitutes and racial animus have become a powerful political instigator. Forty-one percent of white millennials voted for Trump. And among this group, political scientists find that the feeling that whites are losing to other races is widespread. "The white millennials who scored high on the white vulnerability scale were 74% more likely to vote for Trump than those at the bottom of the scale," political commentators Matthew Fowler and Vladimir explained. E. Medenica and Cathy J. Cohen. Explain of their results in the Washington Post.

In experiments, when white participants are reminded that a majority of Americans will belong to minority groups in just a few decades, they begin to feel less warm towards members of other races. A test even showed that reminding whites of this trend increased support for Trump.

"Those who think they are not biased (and who are liberal) demonstrate these threat effects," said Jennifer Richeson, a leading researcher on racial prejudice who conducted the bulk of this research.

When people hear about the rise in numbers of a group, "a feeling of zero competition between groups is activated," says Maureen Craig, who has collaborated with Richeson. When people hear about the rise of a group, they automatically fear that this will result in a decline in theirs. This happens even in well-meaning people.

This does not mean that all Whites have extreme racial animism. This means that fear is a button too easy to support for politicians. We fear without thinking. He directs our actions. And that makes us believe the person who says that she will overcome our fears.

This fact must also be taken into account: the negative and scary information is almost always more sticky and memorable as positive information.

And we tend to exaggerate the threat of people we do not like. A Paper 2012 demonstrates this well. The test was simple: the researchers asked the participants to estimate the distance in a straight line from New York to Mexico City. Participants who expressed more animosity toward Mexican immigrants said that Mexico City was several hundred kilometers closer to New York than the less endangered. The opponents, in their minds, seemed to be much closer than they really were. If people think that the wall between countries are secure, the effect disappears.

Savvy politicians understand that fear is motivating and develop messages that fuel it. It's hard to blame people for being frightened, and ideas like separation barriers could help them feel a little more comfortable. It's just in our nature. But you can blame the politicians who use it.

7) It is incredibly easy to become insensitive to the suffering of others

You might think that every time we witness a shooting death or are reminded that there are millions of refugees and displaced people in the world, we all feel greater empathy and sadness.

But no. It's human to feel numb with time.

There is a profound and exasperating psychological concept that can help explain the growing numbness in the face of a long and slow tragedy, such as the violence of mass guns in America. It is this: as the number of victims of a tragedy increases, our empathy, our willingness to do something, declines reliably.

This trend is called psychic numbness. He describes how tragedies turn into abstractions in our minds and how abstractions are easily mitigated and even ignored.

"There is no consistent value for a human life," said an interview with Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, expert in psychic numbness. "The value of one life diminishes in the context of a greater tragedy."

One of his recent studies demonstrated this simply. Slovic and his colleagues asked the participants how much they would be willing to give money to children in need. And all that was needed was breeding the number of victims from one to two to see a decrease in empathy and donations to children.

In other experience, Slovic found that participants were less likely to act on behalf of 4,500 people in a refugee camp if the camp had 250,000 inhabitants than if it had 11,000, although 4,500 lives would be as important in all contexts. It's infuriating.

"The feelings system does not really add up," says Slovic. "It can not multiply; he does not handle the numbers very well. "

That's why it's not surprising that six out of ten Americans support a travel ban that, in part, refugee bars to enter America. That many lawmakers are not horrified by the possibility of injecting tens of millions of dollars into health insurance. What the world looked like millions are dead in the war and genocide in Darfur. Nous n’avons pas vraiment été aux prises avec l’épidémie d’opioïdes, qui a tué 33 000 personnes en 2015.

Il n’est pas surprenant que les responsables politiques ferment souvent les yeux sur les réfugiés ou deviennent insensibles à l’égard des les centaines de milliers d'immigrés sans papiers amené aux États-Unis comme des enfants.

8) Les fausses nouvelles se nourrissent de nos préjugés – et seront incroyablement difficiles à éradiquer

Les canulars, les théories du complot et les nouvelles fabriquées ne sont pas nouveaux dans l'histoire de l'humanité. Mais aujourd'hui, aidés par les médias sociaux, ils se propagent à une vitesse alarmante. Et ils ont conséquences terrifiantes.

Les fausses nouvelles sont si pernicieuses, car elles pèsent sur nos préjugés. «Les fausses informations sont parfaites pour la diffusion: cela va être choquant, ça va être surprenant, ça va jouer sur les émotions des gens, et c'est une recette pour répandre la désinformation», Miriam Metzger, chercheuse en communications à l'UC Santa Barbara , dit.

Après des tragédies comme le Parkland, Floride, tir à l'école ou l’attentat à la bombe du marathon de Boston en 2013, nous avons vu de fausses nouvelles et des rumeurs se répandre sur les médias sociaux à une vitesse effrayante, dépassant souvent la vérité.

Récemment, le journal Science published une étude validant ce sentiment – du moins en ce qui concerne la propagation de la désinformation sur Twitter. L’étude a analysé des millions de tweets envoyés entre 2006 et 2017 et a abouti à une conclusion alarmante: «Falsehood diffuse beaucoup plus loin, plus vite, plus profondément et plus largement que la vérité dans toutes les catégories d’informations». Elle a également révélé que «les effets étaient plus importants». prononcé pour de fausses nouvelles politiques que pour de fausses nouvelles sur le terrorisme, les catastrophes naturelles, la science, les légendes urbaines ou des informations financières ».

Mais ce qui est peut-être encore plus important, c’est ce que l’étude révèle sur ce qui est responsable d’alimenter l’élan des fausses nouvelles. Ce ne sont pas des comptes Twitter influents avec des millions d’abonnés, ni des robots russes conçus pour tweeter automatiquement des informations erronées. Il s’agit d’utilisateurs ordinaires de Twitter, peu suivis, qui partagent probablement les fausses nouvelles avec leurs amis. Et c’est peut-être pour une raison simple: les fausses histoires sont souvent plus surprenantes que les vraies.

Ce qui est frustrant, c’est que des algorithmes tels que le flux vidéo recommandé par YouTube, le fil d’actualités de Facebook, ou Google News, font souvent la promotion de fausses histoires (peut-être en partie parce que nous avons tendance à trouver ce contenu attrayant).

Mais chaque fois qu'un lecteur rencontre l'une de ces histoires sur Facebook, Google ou ailleurs, cela fait une impression subtile. Chaque fois, l'histoire devient plus familière. Et cette familiarité crée l'illusion de la vérité.

Les psychologues appellent cela la effet de vérité illusoire. C’est la simple conclusion que plus un mensonge est répété, plus il est probable qu’on le croit.

Lorsque vous entendez quelque chose pour la deuxième ou la troisième fois, votre cerveau devient plus rapide pour y répondre. «Et votre cerveau attribue à tort cette fluidité comme un signe de sa véracité», déclare Lisa Fazio, une psychologue qui étudie l’apprentissage et la mémoire à l’Université de Vanderbilt. Plus vous entendez quelque chose, plus «vous aurez ce sentiment intestinal que c'est peut-être vrai».

9) Les théories du complot peuvent être monnaie courante – mais elles constituent une réaction spécifique à un monde sombre et incertain

La conséquence la plus sombre de notre époque étrange, où la psychologie humaine se heurte à l’hyperpartisanerie et à la distribution des médias par des algorithmes sociaux, est la façon dont les théories du complot – souvent cruelles et dommageables – circulent si facilement.

Peu de temps après que la fusillade à Parkland eut fait 17 morts, la vidéo n ° 1 sur YouTube s'appuyait sur un mensonge. La vidéo alleged David Hogg – un survivant de la fusillade dans le Parkland, âgé de 17 ans, qui était devenu un partisan convaincant et sympathique du contrôle des armes à feu, a fait le tour de la télévision par câble – était un acteur.

La souffrance infligée par les théories du complot peut être immense: à ce jour, les parents d'enfants tués lors de la fusillade à la Sandy Hook Elementary School sont accusés d'avoir inventé tout (y compris la vie de leurs enfants), par exemple.

Considérer l'agonie de la famille de Seth Rich, membre du comité national démocrate qui a été assassiné dans une tentative de vol apparent en 2016. Malgré zéro preuveDes théoriciens du complot et d’éminents experts conservateurs ont nourri le soupçon selon lequel le meurtre de Rich aurait été orchestré par la campagne Clinton. "La mort de Seth a été transformée en un football politique", Les parents de Rich ont écrit au Washington Post. "Chaque jour, nous nous réveillons avec de nouveaux titres, de nouveaux mensonges, de nouvelles erreurs factuelles, de nouvelles personnes qui s’approchent de nous pour tirer parti de nous et de l’héritage de Seth." conspiracy theories étaler à gauche aussi.)

On peut soutenir que Trump – qui a pendant des années renforcé la théorie du complot selon laquelle Barack Obama n'est pas né aux États-Unis – ajoute des flammes à ce feu. «En essayant de lutter contre les médias, Trump a délégitimé les médias et a créé un environnement dans lequel la théorie du complot est normalisée», m'a dit en décembre Asheley Landrum, psychologue à la Texas Tech University, qui étudiait le raisonnement motivé.

Les théories du complot sont un type de raisonnement motivé, explique Landrum. Après la fusillade à Parkland, les théories du complot selon lesquelles les survivants adolescents seraient des acteurs pourraient, vraisemblablement, saper leur puissant message anti-armes à feu.

Mais il y a aussi une façon plus empathique de voir les théoriciens du complot: «C’est un mécanisme de protection de soi-même», Jan-Willem van Prooijen, un psychologue qui étudie conspiracy theoriesI said. The theories are a tool by which people can feel more in control and find explanations in a scary and turbulent world.

People who feel powerless and who are more pessimistic are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, van Prooijen finds. And this is where education and outreach can help. Achieving higher levels of education correlates to feeling more secure about the world, and this, in turn, seems to protect against a conspiratorial mindset.

The thought of kids being gunned down at school is horrible. Why wouldn’t we seek refuge in a theory that insists it wasn’t so bad after all?

Further reading: political psychology in the age of Trump

You’ve just read more than 5,000 words on political psychology! Wow. Congrats! I’m impressed.

But if you want to read a few thousand more, here’s what I recommend:

  • NYU psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira have a great, easy-to-read academic explainer on how our political identities shape our beliefs. Follow the citations in this article and learn nearly everything there is to know about political psychology.
  • Racial bias isn’t always subdued and implicit. It’s often explicit, and people are not ashamed of it. The psychology of dehumanization helps explain racial animus. Researchers Nour Kteily and Emile Bruneau find in their work that literally thinking of some racial groups as less than human is uncomfortably common in America.
  • Ezra Klein’s How politics makes us stupid was one of the first pieces published at Vox, and it’s still relevant. In it, he discusses Dan Kahan’s work on how we use our intellect to benefit our groups, not the truth.
  • After Trump’s election, America may have grown coarser, meaner. At the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova Explain how societal norms change.
  • Vox’s German Lopez sums up the evidence that racial resentment was a key factor in Trump’s victory.
  • Lopez also has a great, thorough discussion on ways to reduce racial bias.
  • And finally: Political persuasion is very hard. But it’s not impossible. Here are two promising efforts that show it’s possible to reduce bias.