Professors Rangapriya Kannan and Craig Barkacs Examine Why Trump's Supporters Like Him

Friday, October 30, 2020

Supporters of US President Donald Trump at a rally in FloridaSupporters of US President Donald Trump at a rally in Florida (Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb)
begin quoteThe more Trump flaunts his narcissism and arrogance, or the more his political opponents point it out, the more fiercely his supporters defend him.

The presidency of Donald Trump has been surrounded by controversy since the day he was elected. For many, one question that lingers as Election Day approaches and will determine whether his administration will serve for another four years, is how does he remain so popular among his supporters? Founding Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyzer at USD Rangapriya Kannan and Professor of Business Law Craig Barkacs examine Donald Trump’s this conundrum in an op-ed article published in the International Business Times

Excerpt as it appears in International Business Times:

Here Is Exactly Why Trump's Supporters Like Him

"How can Trump supporters still like him after that?"

This question has been asked with greater frequency since the last presidential debate, which is widely being called the worst one in history, and President Trump's subsequent COVID-19 diagnosis. The question itself is not new and has been repeatedly asked in some form or another since the 2016 elections.

As with most complex phenomena, the true answer is likely a combination of factors, but there is one answer that has not yet been offered. While many remain baffled as to how Trump supporters continue to like him despite his latest act of bullying, lying, egotism or vulgarity, we suggest that it is in fact because of those incidents that they do.

Let us explain. In psychology, there is a value-neutral concept known as behavioral integrity. It refers to the perception that an individual or group is behaving in a way that aligns with what they say, that they do what they say they will do, and that their messaging is consistent.

Research shows that when followers perceive a leader figure to demonstrate behavioral integrity, it bolsters their feelings of trust and confidence. An important clarification to be made here is that whether the leader in question actually does these things or not (e.g., does he actually do what he says he will do?) is not important to this concept, only that he is perceived as doing these things.

One of the reasons for Trump's enduring popularity, despite everything he has said and done, is that his supporters believe he has behavioral integrity. They perceive that his actions align with his words, they perceive that he does what he promises to do, and they perceive that his messaging is consistent (again, whether he really does these things or not does not matter).

A second clarification that needs to be made is that...

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