The lightning-fast ascent and political invincibility of Donald Trump has left many experts baffled and wondering, “How did we get here?” Any accurate and sufficient answer to that question must not only focus on Trump himself, but also on his uniquely loyal supporters. Given their extreme devotion and unwavering admiration for their highly unpredictable and often inflammatory leader, some have turned to the field of psychology for scientific explanations based on precise quantitative data and established theoretical frameworks.
Although analyses and studies by psychologists and neuroscientists have provided many thought-provoking explanations for his enduring support, the accounts of different experts often vary greatly, sometimes overlapping and other times conflicting. However insightful these critiques may be, it is apparent that more research and examination is needed to hone in on the exact psychological and social factors underlying this peculiar human behavior.
In a recent review paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew argues that five major psychological phenomena can help explain this exceptional political event.
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