Study: Trump voters desire power over others, are motivated by wealth, and prefer conformity

People with similar values to Donald Trump were more likely to support his candidacy for president.

A new study on the personal values of Trump supporters suggests they have little interest in altruism but do seek power over others, are motivated by wealth, and prefer conformity. The findings were published in the scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences.

“While all presidential elections are important in terms of their consequences, the 2016 primary season seemed particularly unusual in no small part because Donald Trump — a well known real-estate mogul and celebrity — was leading the Republican Primary. Although most pundits gave him no shot at winning, he continued to perform well in the primary elections. Thus, I wondered — who is supporting Donald Trump?” said Ryne A. Sherman, an associate professor at Texas Tech University and author of the study.

Using an online survey of 1,825 American adults, Sherman found that Trump supporters tended to have little interest in supporting social welfare programs, a strong desire for power over others, a strong desire to make money, a preference for financial risk taking, and a preference for strictly adhering to social traditions.

Trump supporters were more likely to agree with statements such as “People who are poor just need to work harder”, “In life, winning is the only thing that matters”, “A company’s main focus should be profits”, “Art shows are boring”, and “Dress codes are good and should be followed strictly.”

On the other hand, Trump supporters tended to disagree with statements such as “Building relationships is more important than building profit”, “Happiness is more important than money”, “Protestors are the most patriotic citizens”, and “Applying the scientific method is the best way to discover the truth.”

Sherman found these values predicted support for Trump even after controlling for the effects of party affiliation and political ideology.

“Values are key drivers of human behavior and represent our philosophy on life,” he explained to PsyPost. “As a result, we tend to like people (and organizations) that share our values.”

“This study demonstrated that shared values (i.e., values perceived to be shared with Donald Trump) were a key driver of support for Donald Trump during the primary. This was true of both Republicans and Democrats, regardless of political ideology. Those who felt more similar to Trump in terms of his values were more likely to support him.”

The study, however, has some limitations.

“This was an internet sample and not necessarily representative of the US population,” Sherman explained. “Thus, the generalizability of this finding may be questionable. Despite this, the study did measure attitudes and values from more than 1,800 adults from every state in the US. It would be interesting to have measured similar attitudes and values regarding other primary candidates, including Hillary Clinton. Perhaps future studies should consider doing this.”

The study was titled: “Personal values and support for Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential primary“.