The Dunning-Kruger Effect – (Maybe Why Trump Supporters Are Unmovable)

The Dunning-Kruger Effect – – – perhaps an explanation why Donald Trump maintains support despite shocking behavior.

This posting is for INFORMATION ONLY. I take no position – either pro or con – in support of or lack of support for Dr. Azarian’s views.

This short article, written by Dr. Bobby Azarian Ph.D. in Psychology Today, is interesting. It is NOT posted to offend any Trump supporter or anyone with firmly entrenched religious beliefs. It is just an example of a psychological effect of which some people might not be aware. If anyone has information that contradicts Dr. Azarian’s views, please share them. (Contradictory information does NOT mean that you don’t like what he says; it is substantive evidence that what he says is misguided or even wrong.)

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Some believe that many of those who support Donald Trump do so because of ignorance — basically they are under-informed or misinformed about the issues at hand. When Trump tells them that crime is skyrocketing in the United States, or that the economy is the worst it’s ever been, they simply take his word for it.

The seemingly obvious solution would be to try to reach those people through political ads, expert opinions, and logical arguments that educate with facts. Except none of those things seem to be swaying any Trump supporters from his side, despite great efforts to deliver this information to them directly.

The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that they are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed. This creates a double burden.

Studies have shown that people who lack expertise in some area of knowledge often have a cognitive bias that prevents them from realizing that they lack expertise. As psychologist David Dunning puts it in an op-ed for Politico, “The knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task — and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at the task. This includes political judgment.” Essentially, they’re not smart enough to realize they’re dumb.

And if one is under the illusion that they have sufficient or even superior knowledge, then they have no reason to defer to anyone else’s judgment. This helps explain why even nonpartisan experts — like military generals and Independent former Mayor of New York/billionaire CEO Michael Bloomberg — as well as some respected Republican politicians, don’t seem to be able to say anything that can change the minds of loyal Trump followers.

Out of immense frustration, some of us may feel the urge to shake a Trump supporter and say, “Hey! Don’t you realize that he’s an idiot?!” No. They don’t. That may be hard to fathom, but that’s the nature of the Dunning-Kruger effect — one’s ignorance is completely invisible to them.

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