Donald Trump as a Cultural Revolt Against Perceived Communication Restriction: Priming Political Correctness Norms Causes More Trump Support

Lucian Gideon Conway, Meredith A. Repke, Shannon C. Houck

Abstract


Donald Trump has consistently performed better politically than his negative polling indicators suggested he would. Although there is a tendency to think of Trump support as reflecting ideological conservatism, we argue that part of his support during the election came from a non-ideological source: The preponderant salience of norms restricting communication (Political Correctness – or PC – norms). This perspective suggests that these norms, while successfully reducing the amount of negative communication in the short term, may produce more support for negative communication in the long term. In this framework, support for Donald Trump was in part the result of over-exposure to PC norms. Consistent with this, on a sample of largely politically moderate Americans taken during the General Election in the Fall of 2016, we show that temporarily priming PC norms significantly increased support for Donald Trump (but not Hillary Clinton). We further show that chronic emotional reactance towards restrictive communication norms positively predicted support for Trump (but not Clinton), and that this effect remains significant even when controlling for political ideology. In total, this work provides evidence that norms that are designed to increase the overall amount of positive communication can actually backfire by increasing support for a politician who uses extremely negative language that explicitly violates the norm.

Keywords


Donald Trump; political correctness; communication norms; culture; backfiring

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https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v5i1.732

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Citations:

  • Shannon C. Houck, Lucian Gideon Conway (2019)
    Strategic Communication and the Integrative Complexity‐Ideology Relationship: Meta‐Analytic Findings Reveal Differences Between Public Politicians and Private Citizens in Their Use of Simple Rhetoric
    Political Psychology, 40(5), p. 1119(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12583
  • Noah Carl (2018)
    How Stifling Debate Around Race, Genes and IQ Can Do Harm
    Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4(4), p. 399(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s40806-018-0152-x
  • Linus Chan, James D. McFarland, Lucian Gideon Conway (2018)
    Political Contamination of Social Psychology: A Review of Crawford and Jussim’s (2017) Edited Book on The Politics of Social Psychology
    Social Justice Research, 31(3), p. 323(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-018-0312-y
  • Oriane A. M. Georgeac, Aneeta Rattan, Daniel A. Effron (2019)
    An Exploratory Investigation of Americans’ Expression of Gender Bias Before and After the 2016 Presidential Election
    Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10(5), p. 632(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550618776624
  • Mads Nordmo Arnestad (2019)
    Politically Incorrect Statements Do Not Make Leaders Seem More Trustworthy: Randomized Experiments Exploring the Perceptual Consequences of Political Incorrectness
    Management Communication Quarterly, 33(3), p. 363(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318919839787
  • Jo Ann A. Abe (2018)
    Personality and political preferences: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
    Journal of Research in Personality, 77, p. 70(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2018.09.001
  • Lucian Gideon Conway, Meredith A. Repke (2019)
    The psychological contamination of pro-environmental consensus: Political pressure for environmental belief agreement undermines its long-term power
    Journal of Environmental Psychology, 62, p. 12(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.02.001
  • Austin D. Eubanks, Scott Eidelman, Derrick F. Till, David Sparkman, Patrick Stewart, Robert H. Wicks (2019)
    Outcome-based dissonance and Morton's Fork: Evaluative consequences of unfavorable alternatives in the 2016 U.S. presidential election
    Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology
    https://doi.org/10.1002/jts5.55
  • Lucian Gideon Conway, Shannon C. Houck, Laura Janelle Gornick, Meredith A. Repke (2018)
    Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States
    Political Psychology, 39(5), p. 1049(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12470
  • Lucian Gideon Conway, James D. McFarland (2019)
    Do right-wing and left-wing authoritarianism predict election outcomes?: Support for Obama and Trump across two United States presidential elections
    Personality and Individual Differences, 138, p. 84(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.09.033
  • Musa al‐Gharbi (2019)
    Resistance as Sacrifice: Toward an Ascetic Antiracism
    Sociological Forum
    https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12544
  • Joshua D. Wright, Victoria M. Esses (2019)
    It’s security, stupid! Voters’ perceptions of immigrants as a security risk predicted support for Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election
    Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 49(1), p. 36(ff.)
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12563



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