Politics - News Analysis

STUDY: People With Low Emotional IQ are More Likely to Hold Right-Wing Views

During Donald Trump’s years as president, his thuggish supporters were often out in full force. Never was that more apparent than on that fateful day in January when thousands of his followers stormed the Capitol building, destroying property and committing violent acts.

This bullying behavior adds relevance to research conducted in Belgium. That research found that people who are vehemently right-wing are often not really able to understand emotions and how to manage them. Their study was published in the journal Emotion in 2019 but it’s quite obviously still relevant today.

“I have a lifelong interest in political psychology and in political ideology in particular,” said study author Alain Van Hiel, a professor at the University of Ghent.

“Many scholars have investigated the cognitive basis of ideology in general, and right-wing ideological attitudes in particular. In the present study, we wanted to investigate if a similar relationship would exist for emotional abilities.”

So the researchers did two studies, PsyPost reports. In the first study, they evaluated the emotional abilities and political ideologies of 983 undergraduate students. The second study also assessed the students’ cognitive abilities. The researchers conducted three tests to evaluate the emotional abilities of the participants involved.

The researchers discovered that participants with weaker emotional abilities, especially in regards to emotional understanding and management — generally scored higher in terms of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation.

PsyPost defines right-wing authoritarianism as “a personality trait that describes the tendency to submit to political authority and be hostile towards other groups, while social dominance orientation is a measure of a person’s preference for inequality among social groups.

The researchers’ evidence is reinforcing what many of us already suspected — people who are adamantly right-wing frequently lack empathy and are not bothered by social injustice.

“The results of this study were univocal,” Van Hiel said. “People who endorse authority (like Trump supporters) and strong leaders and who do not mind inequality — the two basic dimensions underlying the right-wing political ideology — show lower levels of emotional abilities.”

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The study authors also found that individuals with lower emotional and cognitive abilities were likely to agree with brazenly racist statements like “the white race is superior to all other races,” PsyPost reports.

While the researchers controlled for age, sex, and education, there were the usual limitations. Researchers only collected correlational data, which meant inferences of causality couldn’t be made.

This research certainly seems to describe Trump supporters quite well. They exemplified Trump’s racism and bombast and pretty much parroted whatever he said in most instances and really seemed to give little thought about their actions.

Sounds like Trump supporters, doesn’t it?

meet the author

Megan has lived in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida and she currently lives in Central America. Living in these places has informed her writing on politics, science, and history. She is currently owned by 15 cats and 3 dogs and regularly owns Trump supporters when she has the opportunity. She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GaiaLibra and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/politicalsaurus

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