Using focus groups, we examined support and opposition for Donald Trump prior to the 2016 presidential election. When ingroup members participate in discussion, this conversation alone typically strengthens and intensifies members’ initial attitudes. We used a pre‐ to post‐focus‐group questionnaire to assess attitudes toward Trump, his campaign, and policies. We argue that group polarization influenced people’s opinions about Trump such that attitudes became more extreme after discussion with like‐minded individuals. We report changes for Trump nonsupporters for which group polarization occurred on attitudes toward illegal immigration, political correctness, the military, women, and veterans after the group discussion. For each, level of support for Trump’s views decreased. To further explore potential psychological mechanisms associated with group polarization, we employed network science methods to examine the structure of the language associated with these issues and identify potential drivers of attitude change. Results provide some support for a common mechanism for group polarization, which may be driven by language dynamics specific to individual attitudes.
Bekafigo, M. A.,
Stepanova, E. V.,
Eiler, B. A.,
Ramsey, K. L.
(2019). The Effect of Group Polarization On Opposition to Donald Trump. Political Psychology, 40(5), 1163-1178.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/16549