Thursday, January 21, 2021

Federico on Predictors of Support for Trump

Headshot of Dr. Christopher Federico
A recent study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that a preference for male dominance was a predictor for support of Trump as well as prejudiced attitudes. In a CNN Health article titled “Valuing male dominance may predict support for Trump, study says,” it was reported that research was conducted in seven studies over two election periods surveying selected Pennsylvania State University students.

This research alongside prior studies supports the conclusion that men and who endorse “hegemonic masculinity” (a practice that idealizes and justifies white males’ dominant position in society) are more likely to support Trump. These studies reinforced that masculinity is not only a valued ideology by men but also one by society at large.

Christopher Federico, PhD, professor in the Departments of Political Science and Psychology at the University of Minnesota (who was not involved in the research covered in the article), notes that while this research is only observational, it is in line with prior research that found valuing dominance alongside placing a low value for cooperation is a strong predictor of support for Trump. Additionally, those that hold traditional views of gender roles also tend to support Trump.

Another predictor found for favoring Trump is called “precarious masculinity identity” (PMI). This is a concept of identity where masculinity must be earned and maintained through continuous displays. One reason for Trump’s support stems from his exaggerated persona that displays exaggerated dominant masculinity. Federico explains that the underlying idea of PMI is that it is more fragile than femininity and needs to be on constant display. Therefore, men who feel their status as men is insufficient tend to support Trump. Other studies have found PMI to be associated with aggressive attitudes and values such as support for the military and gun culture as well as sexism and opposition to equality.

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.