Tom Jacobs writes: From the campaign of now-President Donald Trump to the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, an aggressive form of populism—deeply aggrieved, angry with the elite, and hostile to perceived outsiders—is on the rise in much of the world. New research suggests the roots of this disturbing trend can be found in a familiar psychological pattern.
It argues the perception that you are losing ground relative to your rivals evokes intense defensiveness—not only in individuals, but also in societies.
A team led by psychologist Marta Marchlewska of the University of Warsaw links populism with “national collective narcissism,” which it defines as “an unrealistic belief in the greatness of the national group.”
This shared sense of flag-waving grandiosity appears to grow out of two intertwined beliefs: the conviction that your group truly represents “the people” or “the nation,” and the perception that its power and influence has diminished compared to [other] groups.
This belief—that people like you, the “true patriots,” have been unfairly disadvantaged—prompts many to proclaim their group’s greatness all the more vociferously. From there, it’s a very short step to denigrating members of other groups, such as immigrants or minorities. [Continue reading…]