The past few weeks have been a tumultuous time for the United States due to the presidential election. We now know that president-elect Trump will take office on January 20, 2017, but I remain perplexed by the massive amounts of advertising and mixed messages both majority candidates presented to the US population. Just in my mailbox alone, I received approximately 140 pieces of literature in regard to the upcoming political races. This does not take into account all the other various forms of advertising that we as Americans were subjected to on a daily basis.
In an article by Tsipursky (2016a) the author suggested that the problem with American politics is irrationality, which ultimately leads to incorrect assessments of reality in addition to poor political results. Emotions, perceptions, and biases cause these thinking and emotional reasoning errors and result in poor decisions and assessments (Tsipursky, 2016a).
In reviewing the Clinton and Trump campaigns one could easily assess the use of the horns effect. Research by Belludi (2010) suggests biases of the horns effect are a negative perception in one area that is now perceived in every aspect without any further evidence to suggest this assumption. The Trump campaign made use of this effect by suggesting terrorism is initiated by Islamic extremists which places all Muslims in the category of terrorists (Tsipursky, 2016a). Whereas, the Clinton campaign suggested all Trump supporters are “a basket of deplorables” who subscribe to “irredeemable” inequalities of sexism, racism, and homophobia (Tsipursky, 2016a). In reviewing these two types of biases, we can assess that the information is incorrect and does not stand true for all Muslims and Trump supporters.
The illusory truth effect according to Lexikon Online (2016) suggests one believes information to be correct through repetition. The Trump campaign may have convinced many millions of people around the world that NAFTA was “the worst deal ever signed” with the repetitive statements (Tsipursky, 2016b). This statement was just the opinion of the Trump campaign and not the majority of experts. However, this biased statement has settled with several million supporters.
As you can see, the voters of this election have been tainted with psychological warfare that led to many irrational judgments. Our emotions, perceptions, and biases may have caused us to vote for a candidate that we may not have chosen otherwise. However, we may not even be aware of these thinking errors until now. I believe in order to make an informed and rational decision a voter needed to diligently search various types of websites and fact-check statements and other informational sites to make an informed decision in regard to which candidate they felt best matched their personal beliefs and values. This obviously was a difficult and tedious task to conduct due to the mainstream media’s bias toward the candidate of their liking.
Belludi, N. (2010). The Halo and Horns Effects (Rating Errors). Retrieved from
Park, D., Schwarz, N., Skurnik, I., Yoon, C. (2005). How Warning about False Claims becomes Recommendations. Journal of Consumer Research. March 21, 2005. Retrieved from http://lexikon.stangl.eu/14988/illusion-of-truth-effect/
Tsipursky, G., (2016a) Fact-checking Clinton and Trump is not enough. The Conversation. Retrieved from
Tsipursky, G., (2016b). The Worst Problem in American Politics? Research-based suggestions for how to deal with the worst problem in US politics. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intentional-insights/201611/the-worst-problem-in-american-politics