Friday, October 14, 2016
The Backfire Effect: Why the attacks on Trump are not going to hurt him
By Kevin “Coach” Collins
Psychologists understand the strength of what they call The Backfire Effect. It explains the phenomena of people closing their ears to refutations of their positions. An article that discusses this subject acknowledges the difficulties and discomfort that comes with changing our beliefs. We respond by, “paying less attention to information that contradicts our present convictions and more to that which confirms them.” “Once something [like the intention to vote or vote for a candidate of the Party you have always voted against] is added to your collection of beliefs, you protect it from harm. You do this instinctively and unconsciously when confronted with attitude-inconsistent information.”
Another way of thinking about The Backfire Effect is called, Confirmation bias, “which is also called confirmatory bias, or myside bias [and] is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.”
The fact is that both of these features of human personalities favor Donald Trump’s candidacy. In the first place, The Backfire Effect helps explain why Trump has likely lost no appreciable portion of his supporters in spite of the manufactured charges against him.
For many Trump supporters, joining his side has required a leap of faith. Some have had to jump a large distance. They have jumped from not voting ever; they have jumped to re-entering the voter pool after a long absence; they have jumped even to changing Parties to stand with Trump. These people love Trump and his ideas precisely because he is not THEM… the people they despise. They will not let anything bad about their hero sway them from supporting him, even when it is presented on a video. Verbal or confirmed attacks will fade like snow in August.
On the other hand, many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are predisposed to accept that she is of low character; likely a criminal. And they don’t care either. While these facts would seem to have no effect on either side, that is exactly the problem for Hillary Clinton; it’s a function of the 11 point edge in the enthusiasm of his supporters Trump enjoys. The last Fox poll showed Trump’s supporters more enthusiastic then Clinton supporters by a rate of 70/57.
These enthusiasm numbers put the Clinton campaign in a big hole. They have about three weeks to pull Trump down and lift Clinton up. Even to pull even that would require changing the minds of one of every 12 likely voters. Forget it; the advantage goes to Trump in a big way.
Let both sides dig in their heels. That’s fine with me.
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