Support for populist ideologies linked to feelings of disadvantage and national narcissism
24 October 2017
People who perceive they are part of a disadvantaged group are more likely to have an unrealistic belief in the greatness of their nation and support populist ideologies.
A team of psychologists and political scientists from the universities of Kent (UK), Warsaw (Poland) and Maryland (USA) found in three studies that national collective narcissism was linked to support for populism. In the UK, collective narcissism predicted support for Brexit, in the US it predicted support for Donald Trump, and in Poland it predicted support for the populist Law and Justice party.
The study found that collective narcissism, i.e. an unrealistic belief in the greatness of the nation, increased in response to group feelings of being disadvantaged, especially when this was long lasting.
The researchers suggest that the narrative of relative disadvantage, fuelled by populist leaders, might reinforce a 'defensive and destructive' national perspective. Narcissistic beliefs about the in-group greatness are a way to compensate for feelings of being worse off than other groups.
Kent Psychologist, Dr Aleksandra Cichocka, said that the results might partially explain why populism is often linked to prejudicial attitudes and behaviours.