Donald Trump, violence and viral narcissism

These are all probably connected.

In the 10 days after Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, the country experienced a surge in hate crime, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The prominent U.S. civil rights group released a report Tuesday identifying 867 incidents of harassment and intimidation between November 9 and November 18.

This phenomenon already has a name: The Trump Effect.

Many of those incidents involved harassers invoking Trump’s name, making it clear that the outbreak of hate was primarily due to his success in the election. The highest number of hate incidents occurred on November 9, the day after the election, with 202 recorded.

Unfortunately we’re seeing the Trump Effect all around us. But I don’t think it’s because, or only because, Donald ran a racist campaign. I think there’s more to it than that. It’s likely also because of what Donald Trump is – a reality show star.

Researchers are starting to suspect that the much-lamented rise in narcissism over recent generations can be traced, in part, to the influence of reality television. A study we reported on in March found a substantial link between higher narcissism levels and regular viewing of such programs…

The researchers found that participants who watched more narcissistic shows received higher narcissism scores — but only those who (a) watched the programs frequently, and (b) identified strongly with the characters.

A study showed people were more narcissistic if they watched reality TV and identified with its awful stars. A second study…:

…featured 165 college students, who were randomly assigned to watch either a reality show filled with narcissistic characters (Jersey Shore or The Real World), or a scripted comedy (The Office or Friends). Before the screening, half read a fake news article stating that “people experience more enjoyment when they strongly identify with characters in the shows they watch.” The other half read a different bogus article, which stated that “distancing themselves from characters” produced more enjoyment…

The key result: “Among participants who saw a narcissistic reality show, narcissism scores were significantly higher for participants who read the bogus article stating that experience-taking enhances enjoyment,” the researchers report.

When participants were encouraged to “identify” with characters in the TV shows, the ones who’d watched reality TV exhibited a measurable increase in narcissism.

This suggests that, among certain people, watching reality TV directly leads to increased narcissism.

Donald Trump ran a reality show candidacy – how could he not? He’s the most famous reality TV star in the world (he may be the most famous narcissist as well). It’s probable the horrible folks out there punching and kicking innocent people in the streets are only doing what they think Donald would do. They’re like Little Trumps. The fact that so many of them were doing it only hours after the election is damning, I think.

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