The Psychology of the Presidential Election

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The Psychology of the Presidential Election

 Big questions with no clear cut answers but definitely worth exploring.  On one hand, there is the rational assessment.  People have vastly diversified views of these critical issues and support the candidate that best represents those views.  Fairly simple.  And frankly, also true.  Don’t really need a psychologist to sort that out.  But in some cases, there is more.  Some additional psychological factors at play that can potentially account for people’s deep emotional attachment to their candidate and their political affiliation.   Individual’s need for belongingness has been well documented over time.  One needs to look no further than the animal kingdom to collect such evidence.  But on the human side, people like to feel they are a part of something.  It not only fulfills a sense of affiliation but also creates a sense of power.  Clubs, fraternities, sororities, are just the tip of the iceberg.  People gather together in droves for or against causes and to root for sports teams.  And while the import of the issues being debated or the team being lauded is valid, there is an additional unconscious component occurring.  People want to belong.  And if their team, issue, candidate, club “wins”, it fosters a sense of personal success, esteem and empowerment.  Those sets of feelings are compelling, seductive, and addictive.  So people fight hard to facilitate and keep them.  People fight hard for such victory.  Some people even fight dirty…bending rules, skewing truths, slinging mud, cheating, disenfranchising, misleading, misrepresenting…just to secure the “w”.   This dynamic might help explain the consistently growing phenomenon of dirty politics.  Of individuals, organizations, and candidates, at times, feeling quite comfortable, nee justified, insulting or deluding other people to ensure their side prevails. 

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