1 749632 ASR XX X 10.1177/0003122417749632American Sociological ReviewHahl et al. 2018 American Sociological Review –33 2018, Vol. 83(1) 1 The Authentic Appeal of the © American Sociological Association 2018 DOI: 10.1177/0003122417749632 https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122417749632 Lying Demagogue: Proclaiming journals.sagepub.com/home/asr the Deeper Truth about Political Illegitimacy b a , Oliver Hahl Minjae Kim, b and Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan Abstract We develop and test a theory to address a puzzling pattern that has been discussed widely since the 2016 U.S. presidential election and reproduced here in a post-election survey: how can a constituency of voters find a candidate “authentically appealing” (i.e., view him positively as authentic) even though he is a “lying demagogue” (someone who deliberately tells lies and appeals to non-normative private prejudices)? Key to the theory are two points: (1) “common-knowledge” lies may be understood as flagrant violations of the norm of truth- telling; and (2) when a political system is suffering from a “crisis of legitimacy” (Lipset 1959) with respect to at least one political constituency, members of that constituency will be motivated to see a flagrant violator of established norms as an authentic champion of its interests. Two online vignette experiments on a simulated college election support our theory. These results demonstrate that mere partisanship is insufficient to explain sharp differences in how lying demagoguery is perceived, and that several oft-discussed factors—information access, culture, language, and gender—are not necessary for explaining such differences. Rather, for the lying demagogue to have authentic appeal, it is sufficient that one side of a social divide regards the political system as flawed or illegitimate. Keywords political sociology, authenticity, electoral politics, 2016 election, norms In a representative democracy, voters and furthering their private interests or those of a politicians enter into a principal-agent rela- particular subgroup (McGraw, Lodge, and tionship; it is therefore rational for voters to Jones 2002). This suspicion is general to any- one who is aware she will earn status and select candidates, in part, based on their trust- worthiness. A straightforward implication is that voters will prefer candidates they per - a Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of ceive as “authentic”—that is, candidates Business b whose claims to pursue the public good are MIT Sloan School of Management backed by their short-term actions and long- Corresponding Author: term commitments. But the very nature of Oliver Hahl, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper politics generally makes authenticity hard to School of Business, 5000 Forbes Avenue, achieve (Jones 2016). Politicians are beset by Pittsburgh, PA 15213 the suspicion that they are interested only in Email: [email protected]
2 2 83(1) American Sociological Review 2 influence if she is successful; observers can Moreover, over the course completely false. thus reasonably suppose the person is extrin- of the campaign, Clinton was exposed as hav- sically, rather than intrinsically or prosocially, ing violated the norm (and arguably the law) motivated (Hahl and Zuckerman 2014). that classified government information should To be sure, doubts about a politician’s be secured, as well as norms of fair play asso- authenticity may remain latent until the politi- ciated with political primaries and debates. cian acts in ways that reveal a gap between her But if it is unsurprising that Clinton’s candi- “front stage” presentations and “backstage” dacy was harmed by perceptions of her inau- - reality (see Goffman 1956; Hahl 2016). Per thenticity, it is puzzling that the winning haps the most common way for such gaps to be candidate, Donald J. Trump, was perceived by exposed is when a candidate adjusts her mes- his supporters as appealingly authentic despite sage to address different groups of voters or abundant evidence that (1) he was at least as adapts her policies with the changing times sensitive to private self-interest as Clinton, (Jones 2016). These forms of inconsistency can with no corresponding record of public ser - 3 raise suspicions that the candidate is an inau- vice; (2) he was considerably more prone to 4 thentic panderer. It follows that suspicions of - falsehood than Clinton; and (3) he deliber inauthenticity will be even greater insofar as ately flouted many norms that had been taken- two more extreme conditions apply: (1) the for-granted for many years and were widely 5 politician knowingly makes false statements, or Given such a pattern of lying dem- endorsed. (2) she deliberately violates publicly-enshrined - agoguery, it is unclear how a significant por norms. Accordingly, past research has assumed tion of the electorate found Trump to be that politicians will lie only to the extent that authentic and voted for him partly as a result. they do not expect to be caught (Davis and Moreover, because lying demagogues in many Ferrantino 1996; McGraw 1998), and that any other elections, including Hong Joon-Pyo in 6 norm violations will be limited to staking out are not the 2017 Korean presidential election, positions that are somewhat more liberal or necessarily perceived as authentic, our chal- conservative than their constituencies (Abrams lenge is not to account for Trump’s perceived et al. 2008; Chang, Turan, and Chow 2015; authenticity in particular, but to explain varia- Morton, Postmes, and Jetten 2007). In short, tion in the authentic appeal of the lying dema- we are unaware of any research that explains gogue more generally. why voters might see a “lying demagogue”— This challenge is met only part way by someone who deliberately makes evidently existing theory, which usefully recognizes false statements and breaks publicly-endorsed how sharp partisan identification can cause prescriptive norms while catering to widely- voters to forgive erstwhile disqualifying held private prejudices—as authentic. behavior by their preferred candidates. In par - This puzzle became particularly salient in ticular, strong partisan identification can shape the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As might access to news and information (Benkler et al. be expected, one of the candidates—Hillary 2017; but see Allcott and Gentzkow 2017); it Rodham Clinton—was harmed by the percep- can cause people to interpret problematic 1 tion she was inauthentic. Not only did her actions and false statements made by their critics claim she was motivated by personal preferred candidates in ways that are favora- self-interest rather than the public welfare (as ble to the candidate (Berinsky 2017; Nyhan reflected in her having amassed great wealth and Reifler 2010, 2017; Swire et al. 2017; from her and her husband’s political careers), Westen et al. 2006); and it can cause people to but many saw her as having deliberately lied view bad behavior in a favorable light (Valdes- and broken basic norms. According to the olo and DeSteno 2007). Yet more recent nonpartisan fact-checking organization Politi- research casts doubt on the extent to which information is interpreted through a partisan fact, 38 percent of Clinton’s campaign state- ments were partly untrue and 12 percent were lens (Nyhan et al. 2017; Wood and Porter
3 Hahl et al. 3 represent the interests of the “real people” 2016). Moreover, if partisans always avoid (Müller 2016) belies an ulterior agenda they negative information about their candidate, or feel powerless to stop (Judis 2016). As such, they always interpret damaging information in favorable terms, this cannot explain why lying a candidate who engages in lying demagogu- appear to be do not ery can be perceived as bravely speaking a demagogues sometimes authentically appealing to their constituencies. deep and otherwise suppressed truth. By fla- grantly violating norms on which the estab- Furthermore, if partisanship causes supporters to see all blemishes as beautiful, this cannot lishment insists, and thereby earning the opprobrium of this establishment, the candi- account for key aspects of how Americans date appears highly committed to the interests perceived the 2016 presidential candidates. of her constituency (Kim 2017). By contrast, These aspects are captured in three results drawn from a post-election survey, which we an earnest opposition candidate seems less present in the Appendix: most Trump support- authentic. Although such a candidate may be more likable or perceived to be more compe- ers recognized one of his most notorious lies tent, it may be unclear whether he truly as false; Trump supporters nevertheless saw - him as highly authentic; and Clinton support- opposes the injustice that is said to have per ers did not see Clinton as authentic, but instead meated the established political system. emphasized other positive attributes such as After developing our theory, we report on her competence. These results are inconsistent two experiments that validate the theory. In with a simple theory of motivated reasoning, each experiment, online participants were manipulated to see themselves as members of whereby partisans see all of their candidate’s one or another social category, each of which blemishes as beautiful. was represented by a candidate in a fictive col- As developed in the next section, we argue lege government election. The key issue in that a particular set of social and political each election was whether there should be a conditions must be in place for the lying demagogue to appear authentically appealing campus-wide ban on alcohol. Under some conditions, the anti-ban candidate tells the to his constituency. In short, if that constitu- truth in his criticism of the research that is ency feels its interests are not being served by a political establishment that purports to rep- used to justify the ban; in others, the candidate resent it fairly, a lying demagogue can appear lies and makes a demagogic, misogynistic authentic champion of its statement. A key result is that subjects who as a distinctively interests. As first noted by Lipset (1959; cf. were manipulated to see themselves as mem- bers of the same social category as the pro-ban Judis 2016), such a “crisis of legitimacy” can candidate never regarded the anti-ban candi- emerge under at least two conditions: (1) date as authentic. In addition, among partici- when one or more social groups are experi- encing what we call a “representation crisis” pants who saw themselves as members of the anti-ban candidate’s social category, the lying because the political establishment does not demagogue was perceived as authentic only appear to govern on its behalf; and (2) when under some conditions—when there was a an incumbent group is experiencing a “power- “crisis of legitimacy.” We conclude by dis- devaluation crisis” because the political establishment is favoring new social groups cussing how mere partisan identification is over established groups (McVeigh 1999, insufficient to explain the authentic appeal of the lying demagogue, and that many factors to 2009; cf. Gusfield 1986; Hofstadter 1955; which partisan differences in perception and Lipset 1959). These scenarios broadly reflect action are ascribed—culture, information the basis for populist ideologies (Bonikowski access, gender, and ideology—are not neces- and Gidron 2016a:1595–96) that promote a sary, but might be complementary to social “politics of resentment” (Cramer 2016), whereby the aggrieved constituency comes to and political structure. We also relate our believe that the establishment’s claim to results to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
4 American Sociological Review 4 83(1) objective fact but is in fact false; and (2) is THEOry asserted even though the speaker knows it is liar false. A We now lay out our theory in three steps. would then be someone who, because he has told lies repeatedly, has First, we clarify how it is logically possible for an individual to regard someone as authen- acquired a reputation for telling lies. As noted in the introduction, it would seem illogical for tic even though the person is known to be insincere—that is, to tell falsehoods deliber anyone to trust a liar to be their agent, and this - clearly extends to the case of politicians. To ately. This appears inconsistent with the defi- nition of authenticity whereby “someone (or be sure, lying can be unproblematic, and even preferable, when the lie is a “white lie” or a something) is authentic to the extent that s/he (it) is what s/he (its producer) claims (it) to “prosocial lie” (Levine and Schweitzer 2015), 7 be” (see Hahl, Zuckerman, and Kim 2017). whereby the speaker and the listener share an understanding that a larger shared purpose is This problem is resolved, however, when the better served by concealing or distorting the type of lie is such that the speaker flagrantly truth. In addition, political leaders may be violates the norm of upholding the difference forgiven if a false justification for a decision between truth and falsehood (Frankfurt 2005). can later be explained as having been neces- This takes us to the second step, which sary to mobilize support for an action that involves resolving the question of how it is would have been unpopular if discussed logically possible to regard someone as openly at the time (Mearsheimer 2010). But authentic even though they continually vio- what about when a politician makes state- late publicly-held norms. This is more easily ments that are known to be false at the time resolved, because past research demonstrates and that do not conceal any problematic that public compliance with norms often truths? In short, such politicians would seem masks the suppression of widespread private dissent (e.g., Centola, Willer, and Macy 2005; insincere and therefore inauthentic; and this inauthenticity would seem to disqualify them Kuran 1995; Prentice and Miller 1993; as viable electoral choices. Wedeen 1999). This gap between public com- But let us now make a further conceptual pliance and private dissent creates an opening for a demagogue to claim she is conveying a distinction between two ideal-types of lies, one we will call a “special-access lie” and one we deeper truth and is the authentic champion of those whose voices have been muzzled by the will call a “common-knowledge lie.” Figure 1 visually represents this distinction. A special- established leadership. Finally, our theory access lie is a deliberately false statement addresses the social and political conditions based on facts about which the speaker is under which the lying demagogue’s claim will have persuasive power. We argue that the thought to have special access. A good exam- authentic appeal of the lying demagogue is ple of such a lie is Bill Clinton’s notorious rooted in the conditions identified by Lipset false claim that he “did not have sexual rela- (1959, 1960) as responsible for a “crisis of tions with that woman” (i.e., Monica Lewin- sky). If the liar is a political candidate, the lie legitimacy” with respect to a particular con- stituency. Under such conditions, the lying could pertain to her past actions, her relation- ships, or her future commitments. Another demagogue will seem more authentic in her good example is George H. W. Bush’s famous claims to be champion of this constituency if she is willing to burn her bridge to accept- false campaign promise, “Read my lips: no 8 Generally speaking, when politi- new taxes.” ability in the political establishment. cal candidates are accused of being liars, these are the types of lies they are alleged to have Two Kinds of Lies told. And it is often the case that the truth or as a statement that (1) lie Let us first define a falsehood is not revealed until after the politi- cal campaign is over. Accordingly, a basic is couched in the form of an assertion of
5 Hahl et al. 5 Conceptual Distinction between Two Ideal-Types of Lies Figure 1. While we make a conceptual distinction between the two ideal-types of lies, there is a spectrum Note: between the two into which each lie fits, as visually represented in this figure. ideal-typical case of this type of lie is one in reason why politicians tell such lies is that they are gambling that their falsehood will never be which the speaker not only knows the state- uncovered—perhaps because they will have ment is false, but she knows her listeners also know that she knows the statement is false; it political influence over those who would is thus common knowledge that the statement uncover the lie (Davis and Ferrantino 1996; McGraw 1998). Such a politician is indirectly is false. Accordingly, the findings presented - the norm that speakers should reinforcing in the Appendix indicate that the vast major make true statements and avoid false ones; the ity of Trump supporters did not think his implicit claim is that the truth is important and claim that the Chinese invented the concept her statement is true. of climate change was true. The distinction between special-access and A common-knowledge lie is quite differ - common-knowledge lies is an analytic one; ent. This is a false assertion about facts to which the speaker many lies (e.g., Hillary Clinton’s lie that “I has no special access . Donald Trump told many special-access lies never sent nor received any email that was during the U.S. presidential campaign and marked classified”) may fall somewhere afterward (e.g., his claim that he had never between the polar cases. But the distinction is useful because it clarifies what is at stake. In done business with “the Russians”), but his lies are distinctive for including so many particular, whereas the speaker of a special- access lie is implicitly upholding the norm of common-knowledge lies. For instance, Trump often pointed to information that was suppos- truth-telling, the common-knowledge liar is edly in the public domain to support his implicitly attacking this norm. Following claims, even if it was easily demonstrable that Frankfurt (2005), such a liar is a type of such supporting evidence did not exist (e.g., “bullshit artist”: he is publicly challenging truth as a prescriptive norm. Indeed, although his claim that his election victory was “the it may be possible to signal that one is engaged biggest electoral college win since Ronald in bullshit artistry even while telling a special- Reagan,” or his claims regarding the size of access lie (perhaps the manner by which the the crowd at his inauguration). As such, the
6 6 83(1) American Sociological Review lie is told conveys a lack of seriousness about counter-normative beliefs (generally dis- the truth-telling norm), the challenge is much cussed as “prejudices”) that are otherwise clearer when it is common knowledge that the suppressed. The demagogue distinguishes statement is false. Insofar as a speaker seems himself in his willingness to bear the social capable of distinguishing between truth and consequences of publicly saying that the falsehood and yet utters a statement everyone emperor is naked. He may not claim to speak knows is false, the speaker is flouting the power,” but he claims to speak a to “truth norm of truth-telling and inviting his listeners about larger truth power—that social control to endorse such violations. Indeed, listeners (e.g., “political correctness” as described in are complicit in the norm violation as long as Swaim ) is suppressing significant pri- they do not challenge him—and especially if vate dissent. they applaud him. Put differently, voters have two ways to determine a candidate’s authenticity. One approach is to determine authenticity on the Demagoguery as Speaking Truth or basis of the candidate’s sincerity prosocial- about Power inauthentic candidates are those who tell ity: lies or who violate publicly-endorsed norms. Our question has now been reduced to a more A second approach for determining authentic- manageable one: How can someone who ity is based on the implicit claim of the lying claims to promote the popular will be seen as authentic even though he breaks publicly- demagogue—that is, publicly-endorsed norms held norms, including those pertaining to are imposed rather than freely chosen. The authen- lying demagogue thus claims to be an distinguishing known truths from known tic champion falsehoods? This question is more manage- of those who are subject to social control by the established political lead- able because past research indicates that pub- lic compliance with prescriptive norms often ership. Such a claim gains credence to the masks significant dissent (e.g., Kuran 1995; extent that two conditions hold: (1) there are Prentice and Miller 1993; Wedeen 1999). A in fact gaps between publicly-endorsed norms minority—or even a majority under some and privately-held beliefs, thus indicating that conditions (Centola et al. 2005)—may pri- true opinions are being suppressed; and (2) the vately disagree with publicly-endorsed norms, politician is willing to sacrifice his acceptance but a group’s established leadership (however by the establishment. Viewed this way, each method of determining authenticity is consist- formal or informal) tends to determine group ent with previous work that shows audiences membership, at least in part, based on compli- ance with such norms. Accordingly, individu- tend to attribute authenticity to a person who als who seek social acceptance generally have is publicly willing to “assume responsibility for his or her actions, and makes explicit values- an incentive to hide their deviance through public compliance and even to enforce a based choices concerning those actions and appearances rather than accepting pre- norm they do not privately endorse (Willer, Kuwabara, and Macy 2009; cf. Kim and programmed or socially imposed values and 9 Zuckerman Sivan 2017). Moreover, a com- actions” (Carroll and Wheaton 2009:261). Yet the actions of each type of authentic actor mon and powerful way to signal commitment are clearly in opposition to each other, with to a group—and its leadership’s legitimacy— is by publicly complying even though it is respect to upholding establishment norms. In that one does not privately endorse the known fact, by the “authentic champion” logic, the norm (Kim 2017). more dramatic the departure from the norms This gap between publicly-endorsed norms the establishment uses to determine accepta- and private beliefs is the basis for our defini- bility, the more credible are the lying dema- tion of demagoguery (see, e.g., Gustainis gogue’s claims to represent those who see 1990; Mercieca 2015)—that is, an appeal to such norms as instruments of social control.
7 Hahl et al. 7 Figure 2. Visual Representation of “Representation Crisis” Crises of Legitimacy Pave the appeals (for a review, see Bonikowski and Demagogue’s Way Gidron 2016b). It occurs when established political leaders claim to govern on behalf of If there are two alternative ways to interpret all citizens but in fact are believed to pursue their own interests or that of an incumbent the same facts and conclude that a political candidate is authentic—one based on sincerity/ social category—that is, a group that has enjoyed more rights or resources in the past. prosociality and one based on authentic cham- It is understandable why members of other pionhood—this raises the question of which social categories would feel aggrieved under will be chosen. The literature on motivated those conditions, especially if established reasoning (Kunda 1990) suggests this will political leaders claim that the government depend on two factors: whether a voter’s inter - serves all members of society. In short, the est is better served by one interpretation or the government seems illegitimate because it other; and whether that interpretation plausibly promotes democratic norms that it does not fits the available evidence. More specifically, in fact uphold. Figure 2 depicts this type of as relates to the question at hand, we argue that - these factors will vary with (1) the social cat- crisis of legitimacy. Judis (2016:72) charac egory with which a voter identifies; and (2) terizes this as a “dyadic” socio-political dynamic because two actors are involved: a whether the political system may be perceived as suffering from a “crisis of legitimacy” group who are outsiders, in that they do not (Lipset 1959, 1960; for a review, see Mast feel they are being served by the political establishment (but who may regard them- 2017) with respect to that social category. Lipset’s (1960:78) delineation of two char - selves as the “silent majority”), and an incumbent group that controls the establish- acteristic types of legitimacy crisis is helpful for fleshing out the logic and providing two ment. Two examples from U.S. history of different contexts in which to develop and test populist movements that claimed a represen- tation crisis are (Louisiana politician) Huey representation our theory. What we will call a occurs when “[not] all the major groups crisis Long’s “share our wealth” challenge to in society . . . have access to the political sys- Franklin D. Roosevelt’s early administration, tem.” And what we will call a power-devalu- and the populist movement’s campaign for ation crisis “free silver” in the last decade of the nine- occurs when “the status of major conservative institutions is threatened during teenth century (Judis 2016). [a] period of structural change.” It is clear why a representation crisis breeds conditions where the lying demagogue might A representation crisis is straightforward seem like an authentic champion. By in that it is the basis for classic populist
8 8 83(1) American Sociological Review Figure 3. Visual Representation of “Power-Devaluation Crisis” implicitly arguing that publicly-endorsed and whom the incumbent group views as norms belie significant private dissent, the being unfairly favored by the establishment. demagogue is signaling to his constituency Research on this type of crisis began in the 10 that he can serve as an effective voice. mid-1950s with Hofstadter’s (1955) and Lipset’s (1959) analyses of “status politics.” Moreover, the greater his willingness to antag- This idea was developed further by Gusfield onize the establishment by making himself (1986) in his analysis of the temperance persona non grata, the more credible is his claim to be his constituency’s leader. His fla- movement. This literature focused on politi- cal movements that were driven by a sense of grant violation of norms (including that of injustice but were often focused on symbolic truth-telling; see Judis 2016:72–73) makes issues rather than material ones (e.g., the him odious to the establishment, someone legality of alcohol use) and emerged from a from whom they must distance themselves middle-class constituency (Ranulf 1964). The lest they be tainted by scandal (Adut 2008). common denominator was a sense that the But this very need by the establishment to erstwhile higher-status category was losing distance itself from the lying demagogue lends status relative to groups that had formerly credibility to his claim to be an authentic champion for those who feel disenfranchised been even lower status. More recently, McVeigh’s (1999, 2009) analysis of the Ku by that establishment. By contrast, someone who does not flagrantly violate publicly- Klux Klan in the 1920s and the Tea Party after 2008 suggests that such conservative endorsed norms should not provoke the same movements are driven by a mix of status, negative reaction from the establishment and economic, and political changes that sow fear thus seems less obviously committed to chal- of power-devaluation among those who pre- lenging it. The logic of power-devaluation crises ena- viously felt they were part of the establish- bles lying demagoguery in the same basic ment. This sentiment is due not simply to the manner as representation crises, but a distinct fact that their social category is falling in socio-political dynamic is at work. In Judis’s power, but that upstart social categories, in (2016) analysis, and as depicted in Figure 3, such groups’ views, are being unjustly favored these crises involve three groups: (1) a politi- by the establishment. For example, the Ku cal establishment; (2) an incumbent group Klux Klan of the 1920s alleged that the gov- ernment was beholden to corporate interests who sees itself as the “real people” (Müller 2016) but has been losing power; and (3) a that were imposing unfair competition on them by inviting masses of unskilled immigrants group of erstwhile outsiders who are rising
9 Hahl et al. 9 aggrieved due to at least one type of legiti- (McVeigh 2009), and many of Donald macy crisis: Trump’s supporters saw the Federal govern- ment as illegitimate because it helped non- Representation crisis: X is an outsider whites and immigrants “jump the queue” social category and its members perceive through affirmative action programs (Hochs- the political establishment as serving child 2016; see also Gest 2016; Williams incumbents at the expense of the public 2017; Wood 2017). welfare. Such a power-devaluation crisis thus cre- ates conditions under which a traditionalist or Power-devaluation crisis: X is an incum- right-wing lying demagogue should have bent social category and its members authentic appeal. The logic is the same as in a perceive the political establishment as representation crisis, but now the demagogue unfairly favoring an outsider category Y. rather than existing new norms is challenging ones, and he is arguing that the establishment is illegitimate because it has betrayed the val- : WHEn EMPIrICAL OvErvIEW ues and interests of an incumbent group that IS A L yIng DEMAgOguE had previously held sway for appropriate PErCEIvED TO bE reasons. Again, the demagogue will seem more of an authentic champion insofar as her AuTHEnTIC? norm-breaking induces the (new) establish- We now lay out the architecture of the two ment to denigrate her, thus making her seem experiments that test our theoretical proposi- more committed to the aggrieved constitu- tion. Experiments are particularly suitable as ency than is a candidate who does not fla- grantly break (the new) norms. an empirical method here because they allow us to validate our proposed mechanism and to The upshot is that under either type of crisis of legitimacy, what might seem from the out- exclude other processes (e.g., culture, media side to be an irrational assessment, whereby exposure, gender) that may influence how candidates are perceived (see discussion one attributes authenticity to a liar and public- mindedness to a norm-breaker, is in fact a rea- below). In addition, by designing experiments on simulated conditions, we can make prog- sonable consequence of socio-political position ress in understanding the authentic appeal of and motivated reasoning. We argue that when voters identify with an “aggrieved” social cat- the lying demagogue outside the charged atmosphere of the 2016 presidential election egory—that is, one whose members see them- and its aftermath. selves as unfairly treated by the political establishment, they will be more motivated to view demagogic falsehoods from a candidate Recruitment claiming to serve them as gestures of symbolic For Study 1 (representation crisis), conducted protest against the dominant group. When this in January 2017, we recruited 424 unique par - happens, such voters will view the candidate ticipants through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk making these statements as more authentic than (MTurk) tool. For Study 2 (power-devaluation would people in other social categories. crisis), conducted in April 2017, we recruited The most general statement of our argu- 400 unique participants. We made sure no one ment may be summarized as follows: who participated in Study 1 could participate Proposition: Voters who identify with social in Study 2. Our goal was to include 50 partici- category X will attribute greater authentic- pants for each cell (about 400 per study). ity to a lying demagogue (relative to a can- Previous research on the use of MTurk sug- didate who is not a lying demagogue) who gests that because of the inherent noise on this represents X insofar as members of X feel platform, reliable results can be obtained only
10 10 83(1) American Sociological Review when each experimental condition contains at election where a campus ban on alcohol was a 11 least 50 observations (Bartneck et al. 2015). Each study sought to hotly contested issue. Collecting too many observations might manipulate (a) whether a participant identifies increase the likelihood of an overpowered with the incumbent or outsider category, (b) study (i.e., results are deemed significant sta- whether there is a legitimacy crisis, and (c) tistically, but only because of the large number whether the “anti-alcohol-ban” candidate (who of observations), so we kept the number of is an outsider in Study 1 and an incumbent in participants close to the minimum of 50 per Study 2) does or does not make statements that condition suggested by previous work. contain common-knowledge lies and are dema- 12 MTurk has been used widely in experimen- gogic in nature. Figure 4 visually represents tal research and has been found to provide a each manipulation and the overall flow of each subject pool that is slightly more educated and experiment. The series of manipulations resulted technologically savvy than the national aver - in eight conditions per study: 2 (incumbent/ age (Berinsky, Huber, and Lenz 2012; Buhrm- outsider) × 2 (legitimacy crisis/no crisis) × 2 ester, Kwang, and Gosling 2011). We were (anti-ban candidate is a lying demagogue/not). looking for participants who reflected this The key difference between the two experi- general audience, rather than an audience with ments pertains to the type of legitimacy crisis a specific set of knowledge or attitudes. manipulated (b): in the first experiment, there is - MTurk provides access to many potential par a representation crisis where the political estab- ticipants who meet such criteria and is thus an lishment claims to govern on behalf of all citi- appropriate setting to gauge how people’s zens but appears to pursue its own interest or perceptions are formed based on realistic sce- - that of an incumbent social category (as illus narios of which participants often have first- trated in Figure 2); in the second experiment, hand social knowledge (Parigi, Santana, and there is a power-devaluation crisis, where the Cook 2017). One of the downsides of MTurk, political establishment appears to favor an “out- however, is the higher monitoring risk com- sider” upstart social category (as illustrated in pared to university laboratory settings. In par - Figure 3). ticular, there is a risk that some participants do Upon entering each experiment, partici- not pay as close attention to the task as would pants were told they would take part in a sur - participants in a lab with visible monitoring. vey that was “designed to find out how best to This potentially limits the effect of a manipu- cooperate with college students who are run- lation. To confirm that our participants paid ning for positions in the student government.” close enough attention to the task, we asked They were further told they would be given them a series of attention questions about information “about an election campaign for information presented on a previous screen positions in the student government” and (Mason and Suri 2012). About 10 percent of asked for “your opinions on who you would our sample (79 of 824) got at least one attention- vote for.” We will now lay out the manipula- check question wrong. Each time this occurred, tions. Manipulations (a) and (c) were identical they were told the correct answer to reinforce for both experiments but the manipulation for the information they were meant to digest. element (b)—the legitimacy crisis manipula- The results presented here include all partici- tion—was specific to each experiment. pants but are robust to excluding those who got at least one question wrong. (a) Outsider/incumbent group manip- Each experiment began with a ver ulation. - sion of the “Klee and Kandinsky test” often Procedure used in the minimal group paradigm to ran- - Each of the two experiments asked a study par domly assign participants to one of two (mean- ticipant to assess a pair of candidates who were ingless) types labeled Q2 and S2 (e.g., Hahl supposedly competing in a college campus and Zuckerman 2014; Hahl et al. 2017;
11 Hahl et al. 11 Overview and Flow of Two Studies Figure 4. This diagram portrays the layout of both studies. The key difference between the two studies Note: is the manipulation in (b): In Study 1, the crisis of legitimacy is a “representation crisis” and the anti-alcohol-ban candidate is from an outsider social category (Q2); in Study 2, the crisis is a “power- devaluation crisis” and the anti-alcohol-ban candidate is from an incumbent social category (Q2). In both studies, the anti-alcohol-ban candidate can appear either as a lying demagogue or as a “baseline” candidate who neither lies nor makes a demagogic statement. Note that while participants are randomly assigned to be either Q2-type or S2-type, every participant evaluates both the Q2-type candidate and the S2-type candidate. Ridgeway and Correll 2006; Tajfel et al. 1971; “S2-type” candidates throughout the vignette. Yamagishi and Kiyonari 2000). To do this, Via the link to the personality type of the can- participants were told they would first take a didate, participants were meant to see them- test that “has been proven by numerous studies selves as being on one or another side of the major issue in the college election: the student to divide the world evenly based on personality government’s stance for or against banning type, which we will label Q2 and S2.” Partici- alcohol on campus. In Study 1, the Q2 (incum- pants were also told that “when students first enter this college, they also take a personality bent) candidate was in favor of maintaining a ban that had been imposed earlier that year by type test during orientation” and “based on the the college in coordination with the student selections and preferences you display, the test will reveal whether you are a ‘Q2’ or ‘S2.’” government; the S2 (outsider) candidate was Participants then ranked the Klee and Kandin- against the ban. In Study 2, this was reversed: the Q2 (incumbent) candidate was against a sky paintings and were told their response proposed ban, whereas the S2 (outsider) candi- patterns indicate they are an S2 or a Q2. Partici- date expressed support for such a ban. Partici- pants did not know the process was actually random. pants in each study thus learned that members of their “type” were on one or another side of In the course of the manipulation (b) (see a hotly contested political issue. below), participants found out that one of the It is important to underline how this candidates was an S2 personality type and another was a Q2 personality type, thereby manipulation creates a form of partisanship that is orthogonal to the partisan divide in creating a link between each study participant contemporary U.S. politics. Previous studies and one of the two candidates. Participants using this experimental paradigm consistently were told that to protect students’ anonymity, show that (random) assignment to a “type” the candidates are referred to as “Q2-type” and
12 12 83(1) American Sociological Review (S2 or Q2) induces stronger identification to Furthermore, participants were told about a that type over the course of an experiment time when this particular Q2-type (incum- (e.g., Hahl and Zuckerman 2014; Hahl et al. bent) candidate was featured in the student 2017; Ridgeway and Correll 2006; Tajfel newspaper for having ignored a student’s et al. 1971; Yamagishi and Kiyonari 2000). request for assistance with securing financial Of course, partisanship outside the lab carries aid. Participants learned that a reporter had more depth than the “thin” association we followed up on the request: “The reporter elicit here. But this thinness is an advantage: found that when the Q2-type candidate it allows for a conservative test of the idea received the request, he ignored it because it that membership in a social category experi- was not part of his responsibility. The issue encing a legitimacy crisis may be sufficient was never resolved.” Finally, participants in for individuals to perceive a standard bearer conditions were told the representation crisis for that category as an authentic champion that individuals supporting the S2-type (out- when he engages in lying demagoguery. sider) candidate expressed “concern that the debate would be unfair, since the moderator (b) Crises of legitimacy manipula- was an administrator and knew the Q2-type 13 After participants were assigned to a tions. candidate.” “personality type” (Q2 or S2), they were ran- By contrast, participants in the no repre- domly assigned to one of two legitimacy cri- sentation crisis conditions were told that sis conditions in each study. Each study had a other Q2-type (incumbent) students who had different type of legitimacy crisis (Study 1: held the office of president in the past “often representation crisis; Study 2: power-devaluation give up their own free time to represent the no crisis crisis) and its own corresponding students and the community” and “it has been condition. The next sections describe each estimated that someone in this role in the stu- of the two legitimacy crisis manipulations; dent government spends more than 300 hours - it is important to remember that each par per semester on top of school work and other ticipant was exposed to only one of these activities.” Furthermore, in contrast to the conditions. reporter’s story in the representation crisis no representation crisis conditions, in the conditions participants were told that the Study 1: Representation Crisis Q2-type (incumbent) candidate was featured Manipulation in a story in which he went out of his way to help a student who had requested help from This manipulation was meant to elicit the perception that the Q2-type (incumbent) can- the student government: “The reporter found didate either was taking advantage of his that when the Q2-type candidate received the rep position and not concerned about others ( - request, he brought the case to a confidential meeting with the dean of the college and resentation crisis conditions) or was moti- vated to do his job and help others out of requested that this issue be resolved even genuine pro-social concern ( though it was not part of his responsibility.” no representa- tion crisis Finally, participants were also told that the conditions). To manipulate partici- pants to recognize a representation crisis, the Q2-type (incumbent) candidate was surprised about the newspaper coverage, having neither Q2-type (incumbent) candidate was described as having benefited personally from network initiated it nor been aware that the reporter connections related to his position in the had known about the story. Several key pieces of information did not incumbent group: “The student government president often meets with college adminis- vary across conditions. In particular, partici- trators and board members. These connec- pants in both the representation crisis and no conditions were representation crisis tions have sometimes been known to be helpful for a student’s future career.” informed that the S2-type candidate had never
13 Hahl et al. 13 served nor even run for student government at risk.’” All of these statements point to increased concern that the college administration in the past, but “he had been the head of the was supporting the upstart S2-type (outsider) biggest fraternity on campus, one that was social category represented by the pro-alcohol- well known (and notorious among college ban candidate, despite resentment by those who administrators) for its rambunctious culture identify with the campus traditions. and wild parties.” In addition, participants in By contrast, participants randomly assigned all conditions were told that this year’s stu- to the no power-devaluation crisis dent government election had attracted more conditions were told that the election “was the first stu- attention than usual because it “was the first student government election since the college dent government election since the question of a campus ban on alcohol had become a adopted a policy to ban alcohol on campus.” major issue” but “the dean of students sug- Finally, participants in all conditions learned gested that he did not expect a change in that the Q2-type candidate was in favor of school traditions around alcohol in the fore- maintaining the alcohol ban, whereas the seeable future.” Furthermore, participants in S2-type candidate was against the ban. these conditions were told that “an open letter from a group of influential alumni empha- Study 2: Power-Devaluation Crisis sized how much they cherish the ‘college’s Manipulation proud traditions’ and they praised the college This manipulation was meant to elicit the administration for ‘honoring those tradi- tions.’” Finally, participants were told that belief among participants that the college administration (i.e., establishment) was “the dean of students responded with an open letter to the community saying, ‘We value our unfairly favoring the upstart S2-type (out- traditions and should protect them against sider) social category. Participants in both the conditions and the short-term changes in popular culture.’” In power-devaluation crisis contrast to the conditions were no power-devaluation crisis con- power-devaluation crisis first told that this election “was the first stu- ditions, the S2-type (outsider) candidate in the dent government election since the college no power-devaluation crisis conditions was not shown any favor by the college had announced that it would consider banning power- administration (establishment). In fact, the alcohol on campus.” Participants in the establishment seemed to be on the side of the conditions were then told devaluation crisis that “as publicity over sexual assault on col- Q2-type (incumbent) social category, repre- sented by the candidate who advocated for lege campuses increased last year, several protests promoting the ban received attention the status quo and no alcohol ban. in the national media, and the recently hired dean of students responded by suggesting that (c) Lying demagogue/baseline candi- the administration would now support a ban.” date manipulation. The final manipulation power-devaluation crisis Participants in the in each study was used to establish whether conditions were also told that “there was the anti-alcohol-ban candidate made a false growing resentment among some students demagogic statement. In each study, partici- towards the college administration for being pants were told that support for the alcohol willing to consider an alcohol ban” and “an ban derived in part from recent “academic open letter from a group of influential alumni research [performed] by Professors Robert accused the administration of ‘cravenly giving Nielsen and Cynthia Jordan . . . which showed into a group of newcomers who don’t respect that when colleges allowed alcohol on cam- pus, incidences [sic] of sexual assault increased the college’s proud traditions.’” Finally, these participants were told that “the new dean of significantly.” This research is fictional. This students responded with an open letter to the manipulation was followed by a set of attention- community saying, ‘Sometimes our traditions check questions used to reinforce the authors’ have to change when the safety of our students is names (i.e., one was male and one was
14 14 83(1) American Sociological Review female) and whether the study had been reaction to a potential alcohol ban. As noted reviewed and approved for publication by earlier, these questions reinforce the manipu- other scholars in the field. This information lations as well as check for attention. formed the basis for statements made in a debate between the two candidates during the Measures campaign. Participants were then informed that the After the last set of attention-check questions, pro-alcohol-ban candidate was randomly all participants were told that they were “ran- picked to speak first in the debate; he had domly assigned to first evaluate the S2-type stated, “the college has obligations to protect candidate.” Participants were then asked to its students from sexual assault . . . on cam- rate on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high) the pus”; he had cited the research; and he had ” different “S2-type candidate on measures of concluded that it therefore “makes good sense attributes, presented in randomly sorted order. to ban alcohol on campus.” Next, participants One of these measures was authenticity. The conditions baseline randomly assigned to the others were competence, prestige, genuine- were told that the anti-alcohol-ban candidate ness, sincerity, considerateness, warmth, and said, “We really don’t know if there is a link likability. between alcohol and sexual assault. The In contrast to previous research on authen- research that influenced this policy was not ticity (e.g., Hahl and Zuckerman 2014; Hahl even published in a peer-reviewed journal. et al. 2017), we used a single authenticity We can’t be so quick to rely on it, and we item, rather than a scale combining authentic- need to allow alcohol on campus.” ity, genuineness, and sincerity to operational- baseline One key difference between the ize the perception of authenticity. As reviewed lying demagogue conditions was that in and earlier, one approach to determine authenticity the former participants were informed that the is based on sincerity and prosociality; a sec- research had indeed not yet been published in ond approach is that of the authentic cham- a peer-reviewed journal, whereas in the latter, pion who lies while proclaiming a deeper truth participants were told that the research had in about injustice. This theoretical rationale for fact already been published in a peer-reviewed separating perceptions of authenticity from journal, thus rendering the anti-alcohol-ban perceptions of sincerity is empirically vali- candidate’s statement a common-knowledge dated in the post-election survey (see the lie. In addition, participants in the lying dema- Appendix), where Trump’s authenticity was gogue conditions were informed that the anti- perceived by his supporters to be significantly alcohol-ban candidate added a demagogic, greater than his sincerity or considerateness. misogynistic comment to the statement made Therefore, we use the single authenticity item baseline conditions: “Plus, the research in the to measure participants’ perceptions of authen- that influenced the policy was conducted by ticity in analysis of our experimental data. We two professors—obviously with a radical fem- report how perceptions of authenticity are inist agenda—who hate the idea that some- related to perceptions of considerateness after times girls just want to be girls and a little describing the main results of both studies. 14 alcohol helps.” The lying demagogue condi- Given this experimental architecture, our Proposition can be translated into four specific tions thus include both a common-knowledge lie and a misogynistic statement, each of hypotheses, which are tested in Study 1 in the which constitutes a clearly deliberate norm context of a representation crisis, and in Study 15 violation. 2 in the context of a power-devaluation crisis: After these descriptions, participants were asked a series of attention-check questions Hypothesis 1: Where there is a crisis of legiti- about the authorship of the articles, the dean’s macy that pertains to the social category of the anti-alcohol-ban candidate, study participants stance on the college’s traditions, and alumni
15 Hahl et al. 15 who are in this social category and who view language patterns (relevant if different defini- lying demagogue version of the candi- the tions of authenticity might be used). Finally, date will perceive the anti-alcohol-ban can- because members of different social catego- didate as than do otherwise more authentic ries within an experimental condition had baseline comparable participants who view a access to exactly the same information, this version of the candidate (i.e., one who does eliminates the possibility that differential not lie or engage in demagoguery). exposure to information is responsible for the Hypothesis 2: no crisis of legiti- Where there is effects we observe. that pertains to the social category of macy the anti-alcohol-ban candidate, study partici- MAIn rESuLTS pants who are in this social category and who view the lying demagogue version of the Study 1: Representation Crisis Study candidate will perceive the anti-alcohol-ban than do otherwise less authentic candidate as All four hypotheses were validated in Study baseline comparable participants who view a 1, where the anti-alcohol-ban candidate was version of the candidate (i.e., one who does an outsider and the key conditions were those not lie or engage in demagoguery). inducing a representation crisis involving the Study participants who are in the Hypothesis 3: social category (S2) of that candidate. Figure same category as the anti-alcohol-ban candi- 5 shows the mean values and comparisons for date and where there is a crisis of legitimacy - all conditions. In line with Hypothesis 1, par perceive with respect to that category will outsider/ ticipants randomly assigned to the the lying demagogue version of this candi- condi- representation crisis/lying demagogue date as more authentic than will otherwise n tion ( = 54; mean = 5.61) attributed substan- comparable study participants in conditions tially more authenticity (Mann-Whitney where there is no crisis of legitimacy with < .001) to the anti-alcohol- p -score = 7.04; z respect to their category. ban candidate than did participants randomly Hypothesis 4: crisis of legiti- Where there is a assigned to the outsider/representation crisis/ that pertains to the social category of macy 16 condition ( baseline = 53; mean = 3.68). n the anti-alcohol-ban candidate, study partic- That is, when there is a representation crisis as this ipants who are in the same category involving an outsider social category, a lying will perceive the anti-alcohol-ban candidate demagogue representing that category appears lying demagogue version of this candidate more authentic to members of that category more authentic than do study participants as than does a candidate who refrains from lying who are otherwise comparable but are in the and demagoguery. pro-alcohol-ban candidate. category of the By contrast, and in line with Hypothesis 2, participants randomly assigned to the out- Before discussing the results, it is worth noting the factors we are excluding from our sider/no crisis/lying demagogue condition n ( = 63; mean = 3.46) attributed substantially experiments, including those that some argue were important in the 2016 U.S. presidential < .01) to p -score = 2.98; less authenticity ( z election. First, by presenting both candidates - the anti-alcohol-ban candidate than did par outsider/ ticipants randomly assigned to the as male, we set aside the possibility that = 54; mean = n condition ( female candidates have particular challenges no crisis/baseline 4.46). Moreover, and in line with Hypothesis in being regarded as authentic (but see the out- Appendix concerning Hillary Clinton’s per - 3, participants randomly assigned to the ceived authenticity). In addition, random sider/representation crisis/lying demagogue assignment to the various conditions means condition ( n = 54; mean = 5.61) attributed there should be no connection between study substantially more authenticity ( z -score = participants’ social category and their gender, 6.22; p < .001) to the anti-alcohol-ban candi- date than did participants randomly assigned cultural milieu, political affiliation (i.e., to the outsider/no crisis/lying demagogue whether they voted for Trump or Clinton), or
16 16 American Sociological Review 83(1) Figure 5. Study 1: Perceived Authenticity of the S2-Type (Outsider) Candidate Note: The left-most four bars represent perceptions from participants randomly assigned to S2-type (thus associating themselves with the S2-type candidate); the right-most four bars represent the same from participants in Q2-type (thus not associating themselves with the S2-type candidate). The tests for Hypotheses 1 and 2 are shown graphically. The other two comparisons show that the authenticity-enhancing effect of lying demagoguery in the crisis conditions pertains only to those who identify themselves with the lying demagogue (i.e., S2-type), since there is no evidence that the lying demagogue appears any more authentic than the baseline candidate. Hypothesis 3 is validated through the comparison of results between the outsider/crisis/lying demagogue condition and the outsider/ no crisis/lying demagogue condition; Hypothesis 4 is validated through the comparison between the outsider/crisis/lying demagogue condition and the incumbent/crisis/lying demagogue condition. Both of those tests provide statistically significant results as well, as reported in the text. n representation crisis/lying demagogue condition ( = 63; mean = 3.46). These results condi- confirm that the authenticity-enhancing effect = 52; mean = 4.06). Thus, a legitimacy n tion ( of lying demagoguery is present only when a crisis is necessary but not sufficient for the legitimacy crisis provides motivation for lying demagogue to be perceived as authen- tic; the perceiver must also be a member of members of an aggrieved outsider social cat- egory to respond to the appeal of a lying the outsider social category that the lying demagogue. Otherwise, the lying demagogue demagogue represents. than a candidate who less authentic appears tells the truth and refrains from demagoguery, Study 2: Power-Devaluation Crisis even to the candidate’s natural constituency. Study Finally, and in line with Hypothesis 4, participants randomly assigned to the out- All four hypotheses were also validated in sider/representation crisis/lying demagogue Study 2, where the anti-alcohol-ban candidate condition ( n = 54; mean = 5.61) attributed was a political incumbent and the key condi- < .01) to p -score = 2.98; z more authenticity ( tions were those inducing a power-devaluation the anti-alcohol-ban candidate than did par - crisis involving the social category (Q2) of incumbent/ ticipants randomly assigned to the that candidate. Figure 6 shows the mean
17 Hahl et al. 17 Figure 6. Study 2: Perceived Authenticity of the Q2-Type (Incumbent) Candidate Note: The left-most four bars represent perceptions from participants randomly assigned to Q2-type (thus associating themselves with the Q2-type candidate); the right-most four bars represent the same from participants in S2-type (thus not associating themselves with the Q2-type candidate). The tests for Hypotheses 1 and 2 are shown graphically. The other two comparisons show that the authenticity- enhancing effect of lying demagoguery in the crisis conditions pertains only to those who identify themselves with the lying demagogue (i.e., Q2-type), since the lying demagogue does not appear any more authentic than the baseline candidate (in fact, significantly less authentic, as shown). Hypothesis 3 is validated through the comparison of results between the incumbent/crisis/lying demagogue condition and the incumbent/no crisis/lying demagogue condition; Hypothesis 4 is validated through the comparison between the incumbent/crisis/lying demagogue condition and the outsider/crisis/lying demagogue condition. Both of those tests provide statistically significant results as well, as reported in the text. 53; mean = 3.68) attributed less authenticity values and comparisons for all conditions. In p -score = 3.13; z ( < .01) to the anti-alcohol- line with Hypothesis 1, participants randomly ban candidate than did participants who were incumbent/power-devaluation assigned to the = 54; randomly assigned to the n condition ( crisis/lying demagogue incumbent/no crisis/ condition ( baseline mean = 5.22) saw the anti-alcohol-ban candi- = 50; mean = 4.72). n < p -score = 2.06; z date as more authentic ( Moreover, and in line with Hypothesis 3, par - incumbent/ .05) than did participants who were randomly ticipants randomly assigned to the power-devaluation crisis/lying demagogue assigned to the incumbent/power-devaluation n n = 54; mean = 5.22) attributed condition ( = 52; mean = crisis/baseline condition ( p -score = 4.50; 4.71). Thus, when there is a power-devaluation z more authenticity ( < .001) to the anti-alcohol-ban candidate than did par - crisis involving an incumbent social category, a lying demagogue representing that category ticipants randomly assigned to the incumbent/ = 53; n condition ( no crisis/lying demagogue appears more authentic to members of that mean = 3.68). These results reinforce the con- category than does a candidate who refrains clusion that the authenticity-enhancing effect from lying or demagoguery. By contrast, and in line with Hypothesis 2, of lying demagoguery is present only when a legitimacy crisis provides motivation for participants randomly assigned to the incum- members of an aggrieved incumbent social bent/no crisis/lying demagogue n condition ( =
18 18 American Sociological Review 83(1) category to respond to the appeal of a lying insufficient for voters to find a lying dema- demagogue. Otherwise, the lying demagogue gogue authentic. Furthermore, the lying dema- than a candidate who less authentic appears gogue is viewed as more authentic in the midst tells the truth and refrains from demagoguery, of this crisis than he would appear absent a even to the candidate’s natural constituency. crisis. Finally, voters who are not constituents - Finally, and in line with Hypothesis 4, par of the lying demagogue never attribute more incumbent/power-devaluation ticipants in the authenticity to such a candidate compared to a = 54; condition ( crisis/lying demagogue n baseline candidate. Such voters do not have the mean = 5.22) attributed more authenticity necessary motivation to hear the lying dema- p -score = 3.99; z ( < .001) to the anti-alcohol- gogue’s implicit message. ban candidate than did participants in the outsider/power-devaluation crisis/lying dem- rObuSTnESS CHECKS n = 47; mean = 3.78). agogue condition ( Thus, we again see that a legitimacy crisis is Before concluding, we check the robustness necessary but not sufficient for the lying of our results. One possible concern is that demagogue to be perceived as authentic; the perceptions of authenticity are unrelated to perceiver must also be a member of the electoral support. Our theory does not have incumbent social category that the lying dem- clear implications for overall support because agogue represents. (1) such support should be determined by other perceptions of the candidate (e.g., their competence and prosociality) in addition to Discussion of Main Results their perceived authenticity; and (2) study participants may have identified with the These studies validate our theory as to why social categories represented by the candi- and when a lying demagogue would be seen as dates, but they were only asked to observe the more authentic than someone who neither lies election and not role play as if they were to nor engages in demagoguery. In each study, vote in it. Nonetheless, it is instructive to com- two conditions are jointly necessary for a lying pare the similarity of distributions in Figures 5 demagogue to seem authentic to a set of vot- ers: there must be a crisis of legitimacy, and and 6 to that displayed in Figure 7, which these voters must be members of the aggrieved shows variation by condition in mean answers social category. In the context of a legitimacy to a seven-point item, “How enthusiastically crisis, aggrieved voters are motivated to inter - do you think those who want to allow alcohol on campus will support the S2-type (for Study pret the act of lying demagoguery as a sym- - 1) / Q2-type (for Study 2) candidate?” Over bolic challenge to the seemingly illegitimate all, especially in Study 1, participants expected establishment. The candidate demonstrates he is an authentic champion by flouting norms that greater authenticity would be consistent with greater support. Note that in both studies, this establishment holds dear. We have shown the lying demagogue is expected to win his evidence of this effect in the two types of natural constituency when there is a legiti- legitimacy crises first noted by Lipset (1959, 1960; cf. Judis 2016): a representation crisis macy crisis, but not when there is no crisis. We now briefly consider two additional and a power-devaluation crisis. In each case, the lying demagogue candidate is viewed as issues: (I) whether our experimental manipula- more authentic than a baseline candidate. This tion was sufficiently strong that it operated relationship is reversed when there is no legiti- independent of study participants’ gender and macy crisis: the candidate’s natural constitu- political identities; and (II) whether the authen- less authenticity ents attribute to the lying tic appeal of the lying demagogue is confined to authentic championhood, as we argued, or if demagogue than to the baseline candidate in it reflects a general tendency for aggrieved vot- the absence of a legitimacy crisis. This demon- strates that mere partisan identification is ers to view their candidate in a positive light.
19 Hahl et al. 19 Figure 7. Summary of Results on “Support” Note: These results are based on all participants’ responses to a seven-point item, “How enthusiastically do you think those who want to allow alcohol on campus will support the S2-type (for Study 1) / Q2- type (for Study 2) candidate?” The patterns for results on support are nearly identical to those shown on perceptions of authenticity. Study 2 is less consistent with the authenticity results than Study 1, but in all cases, when the lying demagogue candidate is in a legitimacy crisis, his support is higher than his baseline alternative. This is not the case when the legitimacy crisis is absent. * *** ** p < .001. < .01; p p < .05; Robustness Check I: The Irrelevance the case in our experiments. With regard to of Gender and Trump/Clinton how study participants voted in the 2016 Support presidential election, one might suppose that the politically charged atmosphere of this There are good reasons to suppose that the results of our experiments may vary depend- election and its aftermath would have a sig- ing on study participants’ gender and whether nificant effect on how study participants responded to the lying demagogue (relative to they voted for Trump or Clinton in the 2016 the baseline opposition candidate). In particu- election. With regard to gender, one might lar, insofar as the lying demagogue character hypothesize that women should be less likely to perceive a lying demagogue as authentic most resembles Trump, and insofar as Trump (when they are in the aggrieved social cate- voters are more likely to see themselves as gory in a legitimacy crisis), insofar as the members of an aggrieved social category suf- fering from a crisis of legitimacy, this would lying demagogue’s demagoguery included misogynistic statements or actions—as was seem to imply that Trump supporters should
20 . < .001. p *** < .01; p Study 1 Perceived Authenticity of the Anti-Alcohol-Ban Candidate by Subsample ** The same pattern of results appears for both men and women, and for both Trump supporters and Clinton supporters. All < .05; p subsample is fewer than 30 subjects. The results reported here are from Study 1; the results from Study 2 are substantively similar Note: Figure 8. * but two hypotheses (Hypothesis 2 for female subjects and Clinton voters) are supported within each subsample, although each 20
21 21 Hahl et al. post-election survey reported in the Appendix be more likely to perceive the lying dema- show just such perceptions of Trump from gogue as authentic. Popular culture and the media have also posited that Trump supporters Trump supporters. If Trump supporters were inclined to see their candidate in a positive might have backed him out of a predilection for a more authoritarian style (Vance 2016; light no matter what he did, they would per - Williams 2017), perhaps due to differences in ceive him not only as authentic but also as considerate. To see whether there is a similar culture or socialization. Observing differences empirical pattern in our experimental set- across Trump and Clinton supporters in our tings, we ran the same tests we ran earlier to study will help test this alternative. validate our hypotheses, but instead of evalu- In fact, however, as Figure 8 shows, the ating authenticity, we evaluated participants’ same pattern of results appears for both men attributions of considerateness (i.e., an aver - and women, and for both Trump supporters 17 This suggests that age of attributions of “considerateness,” “lik- and Clinton supporters. ability,” and “warmth” [Hahl and Zuckerman the motivation to see a lying demagogue as an 2014]). For the sake of brevity, we will report authentic champion overrides erstwhile ten- only results from Study 1; results from Study dencies for women to penalize men for mak- 18 2 are substantively the same. We also find ing misogynistic statements. In most comparisons, when the lying dem- that Clinton supporters and Trump supporters are essentially no different in their susceptibil- agogue is deemed less authentic than another candidate, he is also deemed less considerate. ity to the authentic appeal of the lying dema- This is no surprise. The key test would be to gogue: had Clinton supporters been members of an aggrieved social category in a crisis of compare attributions of considerateness for participants randomly assigned to the (Study legitimacy, they too would apparently have responded as Trump supporters did. There- outsider/representation crisis/ 1 conditions) condition with perceptions fore, our results are not driven by differences lying demagogue from participants randomly assigned to the in participants’ gender or political identities. condi- outsider/representation crisis/baseline tion. Recall that the same comparison for Robustness Check II: The Lying authenticity showed higher perceived authen- Demagogue as an Authentic Jerk ticity in the former condition than in the latter Whereas some research sees partisans as rein- (Hypothesis 1). By contrast, participants in terpreting all their candidate’s flaws in a posi- outsider/representation crisis/lying dema- the tive light (e.g., Valdesolo and DeSteno 2007; = 54; mean = 3.07) saw n condition ( gogue the S2-type (outsider) candidate as less con- Westen et al. 2006), we suggest instead that siderate ( < .05) than did p -score = 1.98; z motivated reasoning is significantly con- strained by observable facts. The lying dema- participants randomly assigned to the out- gogue is perceived as an authentic champion condition sider/representation crisis/baseline n ( by his aggrieved constituency not because = 52; mean = 3.36). they appreciate all aspects of his behavior, but These results suggest a highly nuanced because it is in fact quite plausible to see his relationship between political grievance and behavior as an instance of bravely speaking response to lying demagoguery. In short, aggrieved constituencies are motivated to truth about power. His behavior is directly inconsistent, however, with such valued attri- interpret the lying demagogue as an authentic butes as sincerity and likability. Thus, our champion because this is a reasonable inter - theory implies that even when constituencies pretation of his actions, and not because they perceive a lying demagogue as authentic, they attribute positive attributes to him across the recognize his behavior as insincere and per board. Indeed, they reasonably tend to see - him as less considerate, but they accept this as haps even inconsiderate, thus accepting him as an “authentic jerk.” Findings from the a worthwhile tradeoff in the context of a
22 22 83(1) American Sociological Review legitimacy crisis. More generally, although The second point has even more far-reaching authenticity is typically regarded as a positive implications. Considerable prior research sug- moral attribute (Carroll and Wheaton 2009; gests that an actor will appear less authentic Hahl 2016), and it often goes hand-in-hand when she seems driven by extrinsic rather with perceptions of considerateness (Hahl than intrinsic motives (Hahl 2016; Hahl and and Zuckerman 2014), in the case of the lying Zuckerman 2014; Hahl et al. 2017; Sagiv demagogue these two moral attributes may be 2014). But as we noted in the introduction, it negatively correlated, thus leading to a more let is hard to understand how any politician— ambiguous moral status overall. alone a lying demagogue—could ever seem authentic if that were true. How can a politi- cian shed the suspicion she is pursuing elec- DISCuSSIOn tive office to gain status, power, and perhaps riches as well? Indeed, politicians are not We now put our theory and results in a alone in this quandary: some capitalists (e.g., broader context by considering (1) the impli- purveyors of get-rich-quick-schemes) are cations for research on attributions of authen- regarded as authentic by their audience even ticity; (2) general implications for explaining though they are quite open about their pursuit stark partisan differences in the perception of political candidates; and (3) how our analysis of extrinsic rewards. Our theory helps resolve relates to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. such puzzles. The key is that authenticity—an assessment of whether someone is indeed what she claims to be—is evaluated with Implications for Attributions of respect to a particular claim. Politicians seem Authenticity less authentic to the extent that they claim not to be extrinsically motivated, yet they appear Cultural, economic, and organizational soci- to enjoy greater power, status, or wealth as a ologists have recently paid considerable attention to how and why authenticity is result of their political career. By contrast, a politician who makes no such claim does not demanded of various actors, and how that risk his authenticity. Similarly, the insecurity demand is met (Carroll and Wheaton 2009; that many professionals and managers feel in - Grazian 2005; Hahl 2016; Hahl and Zucker today’s culture derives from the fact that they man 2014; Hahl et al. 2017; Lehman, Kovács, implicitly claim to work for intrinsic and and Carroll 2014). We have already noted an prosocial motives rather than extrinsic rewards important contribution to this literature—the (see Hahl et al. 2017). It is only with this gen- idea that authenticity can be attained even eral insight that we can understand how some- through actions that are perceived as morally problematic (due to a perceived lack of sin- one can be regarded as insincere yet authentic. cerity or prosociality). More generally, this As we discussed, this makes sense only if the audience perceives the speaker to be using a article reinforces two key points regarding the logic underlying perceptions of authenticity: false statement to make a larger implicit (1) such perceptions pertain to a particular claim—in this case, about how publicly- endorsed norms (the most general of which is claim, which may not be the explicit claim that is made; truth-telling) are imposed on the aggrieved these perceptions are and (2) highly audience-specific. audience that is the target for the claim. The latter point comes out quite clearly in our analyses: per - ceptions of authenticity vary substantially Partisan Differences in Perception: based on the social category with which the Which Mechanisms Are Sufficient subject identified. We know of no prior result and Which Are Necessary? in the literature that demonstrates differences Let us now turn to the specific question we across audiences in their attributions of address in this article—how and why authenticity to the very same performance.
23 Hahl et al. 23 Second, our analysis suggests that many a constituency of voters can view a lying purportedly important factors in explaining demagogue as authentic. Little research has partisan differences can be ruled out as neces- been conducted specifically on this question. - sary for explaining such differences. In refer Nevertheless, the topic is clearly related to the larger question of what might account for the ence to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, observers and scholars have cited (1) cultural stark differences in how supporters of differ - differences, (2) differences in information ent political candidates/parties interpret candi- 19 dates’ statements and actions. Our article has Each fac- access, and (3) candidates’ gender. two sets of implications for such research—it tor is plausibly important for explaining parti- illuminates both what is for explain- sufficient san differences in the case of the 2016 election and more generally. For instance, Vance (2016) ing such differences and what is necessary . and Williams (2017) point to stark cultural First, whereas past research suggests that divides between the Trump and Clinton con- differences in partisan identification can lead stituencies, which reflect long-standing socio- voters to interpret problematic actions and logical research on cultural differences between false statements by their preferred candidates (white) working-class and upper-middle-class in ways favorable to that candidate (Berinsky 2017; Nyhan and Reifler 2010, 2017; Swire Americans (especially Lamont and Molnár 2002; Lareau 2003). In particular, Trump’s et al. 2017; Westen et al. 2006), and it can cause people to view candidates’ bad behavior attacks on the snobbery of the upper-middle- class cultural elite (a theme of Republican in a favorable light (Valdesolo and DeSteno attacks at least since Nixon) seem specifically 2007), we have shown that such partisan iden- tification is insufficient to explain the authen- designed with such cultural divides in mind. In addition, it has become common wisdom tic appeal of the lying demagogue (for recent research that shows limits to the extent to (backed by some research [Benkler et al. 2017; but see Allcott and Gentzkow 2017]) that which partisanship shapes one’s views, see Americans now receive their political news Nyhan et al. 2017; Wood and Porter 2016). On the one hand, our studies support such from highly polarized sources; to the extent this is true, it surely increases the tendency for research: study participants who were not partisan differences in responses to political from the social category of the lying dema- gogue perceived him as authentic. But never candidates. Finally, insofar as one might wish we also show that unless there is a crisis of to understand why Trump was seen as authen- legitimacy, members of the lying demagogue’s tic and Clinton as inauthentic, it seems plausi- category do not perceive him as authentic. ble that this is related to the tendency (by Moreover, even when there is a legitimacy Americans at least) to see competent women crisis, constituents of the lying demagogue do as cold and inauthentic (Ridgeway 2011; cf. Hahl and Zuckerman 2014). But our analyses not perceive him to be considerate. Thus, the none of these factors are necessary partisan lens by which the same political facts show that acquire starkly different political interpreta- to produce sharp partisan differences in inter - tions is a highly specific form of motivated preting the same political facts, and in particu- lar to produce differences in responses to a reasoning, one that is constrained to be a rea- sonable interpretation of available informa- lying demagogue. tion. More specifically, strong partisanship To be sure, this does not mean that culture, may often be insufficient to generate such information access, or a candidate’s gender differences; a legitimacy crisis may also be are unimportant. Quite possibly, each of these factors might reinforce the factor we establish necessary. A legitimacy crisis may encourage here as sufficient—belonging to an aggrieved partisans to see the lying demagogue as pro- claiming a suppressed truth, but it does not social category in a crisis of legitimacy. Dif- blind them to the fact that he is acting like a - ferences in culture, the use of different infor “jerk” or that he may not be competent. mation sources, and perhaps the use of gender
24 American Sociological Review 24 83(1) stereotypes might be shaped by whether one takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his is experiencing a legitimacy crisis. In particu- supporters take him seriously, but not liter - lar, values such as warmth and loyalty might ally.” In addition to providing supporting have particular appeal when one sees the elite evidence for this insight, our article contrib- as serving itself at the expense of the popu- utes to public debates by sharpening the logic lace (cf. Haidt 2012; Lamont and Molnár that underlies Zito’s observation and by tak- 2002). It seems natural to gravitate toward ing it out of the charged atmosphere of the media sources that describe the world in election to an experimental setting where we - terms of the legitimacy crisis that one per demonstrate the mechanisms that turn on and ceives. Thus, although we have established off the tendency to perceive lying demagogu- that such factors as culture, information ery as symbolic protest. Put differently, to access, and candidate gender are unnecessary recognize that Trump supporters viewed his for explaining sharp partisan differences in lying demagoguery as symbolic protest is not responding to the same political facts, future to explain why they did so. Moreover, one research is necessary to tease out how these might think this perception was due to parti- important factors relate to the one we have sans’ basic tendency to view their candidate’s validated here—membership in an aggrieved blemishes as beautiful; or it might be due to social category in a legitimacy crisis. any of the factors just discussed—culture, information access, or gender stereotyping. Our theory and evidence show that mere par - Relationship to the 2016 U.S. tisanship is insufficient to produce this effect Presidential Election and such factors are unnecessary for explain- This article was animated by a puzzle that ing it. What is sufficient is that one be a mem- ber of an aggrieved social category in a emerged from the 2016 presidential election: legitimacy crisis. How could a candidate who repeatedly told Moreover, our theory fits key facts of the lies and flagrantly broke norms be viewed as 2016 U.S. presidential election. In particular, authentic by his supporters? One possibility is much recent scholarship suggests that the that his supporters thought his false state- U.S. political system was suffering from a ments were true. Accordingly, Swire and col- legitimacy crisis with regard to certain con- leagues (2017) demonstrate that Trump’s supporters were more likely to believe false stituencies, and perhaps most notably the statements by Trump, and to be resistant to white working class (see Morgan and Lee 2017; cf. Skocpol and Williamson  on correction by neutral sources. But although the Tea Party movement). Arguably, this our post-election survey (see Appendix) pro- vides additional support for this effect, it also legitimacy crisis had aspects of both a repre- sentation crisis and a power-devaluation cri- demonstrates that most Trump supporters sis. The latter theme appeared in the Trump recognized one of his most notorious lies as false, and that the key difference between campaign’s slogan to “Make America Great Trump voters’ and Clinton voters’ perceptions Again,” in Trump’s attacks against immi- of this lie was that the former viewed it as a grants, in the campaign’s resonance with form of symbolic protest. Moreover, Trump white working-class voters who saw the Fed- eral government as biased in favor of people voters’ tendency to perceive this symbolic of color (Hochschild and Hout 2017), and in protest was significantly correlated with their the argument that norms of “political correct- tendency to see him as authentic and to be enthusiastic in their support for him. ness” that favor new social categories had The idea that Trump’s lies were a form of been foisted upon the country (Hochschild symbolic protest achieved significant cur - 2016; McElwee and McDaniel 2017; Wil- rency in the media by October 2016 due to an liams 2017; cf. Bonikowski and DiMaggio She 2016; Willer, Feinberg, and Wetts 2016). The article by Salena Zito of The Atlantic. summarized the idea as follows: “The press themes of a representation crisis were also
25 Hahl et al. 25 quite strong, as reflected in the Trump cam- be authentically appealing, and they may con- paign’s call to “drain the swamp,” and the tinue to support him once in office as a means attacks on Hillary Clinton for being corrupt of demonstrating loyalty to one another. and careless with U.S. interests and for being distant from “real Americans.” Conclusion We should note why Donald Trump seems to have been particularly well-suited to play Our experimental analyses provide clear sup- the part of authentic champion via lying dem- port for our proposed resolution of the puzzle agoguery. As Bonikowski and Gidron (2016a) of how a lying demagogue may be viewed as show, populism is the style of the political more authentic than a candidate who neither lies nor flagrantly violates publicly-endorsed outsider. We argued that a key reason why it seems plausible that the lying demagogue is norms. In short, our theory revolves around bravely speaking truth about power is that his two ideas: (1) a political candidate can achieve a perception of authenticity in two flagrant norm violation makes him persona non grata ways—via sincerity and via authentic cham- among the establishment. In pionhood; and (2) members of aggrieved Trump’s case, he had already been an outcast for many years among the cultural elite (see social categories in a crisis of legitimacy will be motivated to see the lying demagogue as Kruse 2017). Indeed, an off-cited motivation an authentic champion. Our results provide for his presidential campaign was to counter his humiliation at the hands of Barack Obama strong support for these ideas. Indeed, it is at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ worth highlighting that the subtle experimen- 20 tal manipulations we introduced were suffi- Dinner, which made it abundantly clear how cient to turn on and off these mechanisms. detested he was in the elite establishment. But Finally, the fact that we were able to repro- insofar as Trump had no chance of being duce largely the same pattern of results in two acceptable in elite eyes, this made him even more credible as an authentic champion of his different types of legitimacy crises adds fur - supporters—mainly Americans who also felt ther credence to our results. disrespected by cultural elites. And it likely made his lying demagoguery even more cred- -ELECTIOn APPEnDIx: POST ible. If the key to the authentic appeal of the SurvEy On PErCEPTIOn OF lying demagogue is that he is signaling a TruMP’S F ALSE STATEMEnTS willingness to be regarded as a pariah by the establishment, Trump was certainly a credible Study design. pariah. In this sense, his statements reminded The post-election survey was 21 conducted on November 16th, 2017, eight his voters that he is a pariah just like them. Finally, while our theory and results pro- days after the U.S. presidential election, on vide a sufficient explanation for the authentic Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants, who were restricted to U.S. IP addresses, were told appeal of the lying demagogue, we do not that the purpose of the survey was “to assess exclude the possibility of other advantages what kinds of impressions voters form about that lying demagoguery may have for a politi- presidential candidates.” In reality, the study cian. In particular, a political leader may tell was designed to assess whether (1) it is pos- obvious lies to test his followers and thereby sible for voters to view a candidate—Donald escalate their commitment to him. This is the Trump, in particular—as authentic despite logic that Orwell (1949) made famous in his recognizing that he deliberately told a dema- analysis of totalitarianism, and it has been gogic lie; and (2) whether his supporters justi- documented in modern authoritarian regimes fied this behavior as a form of symbolic (e.g., Wedeen 1999). Post-election, this logic may be salient for Trump as well (Yglesias protest. Alternatively, Trump’s supporters 2017). Indeed, Trump supporters may have might view him as authentic because they do found his lying demagoguery as a candidate to not see his demagogic lies as such. To rule in
26 26 83(1) American Sociological Review - questions on seven-point Likert scales. All the mechanism we propose through this sur vey, we would need to show that (1) Trump participants were asked two questions: (1) their level of belief that Trump’s statement supporters accept that his statements are dem- agogic falsehoods, (2) they are more likely was factually true or false; and (2) their level than Clinton supporters to view this as sym- of agreement that Trump meant the statement literally. The sample was randomly split in bolic protest, and (3) people who view the half for the third question, which pertained to demagogic falsehood as symbolic protest are Trump’s motive for making the statement. also more likely (than those who do not) to see Half the sample was asked to rate their level of Trump as authentic. agreement that “this was his way of sending a We recruited 402 U.S.- message that he is opposed to the elite estab- Recruitment. based study participants through Amazon’s lishment”; the other half of the sample was Mechanical Turk tool. We used a quota pro- asked to rate their level of agreement that “this cess to recruit similar numbers of Clinton and was his way of achieving popularity or power.” Participants were then asked a series of ques- Trump supporters and ended up with 186 participants who reported that they voted for tions about the two candidates’ characteristics (e.g., authenticity, competence, likability). Trump, 177 who voted for Clinton, and 39 Participants were also asked how enthusiastic who voted for other candidates. We had 192 male participants and 205 female participants they were about each candidate before the election. (five did not report gender). This survey is based on an unrepresentative sample of the Main results. Three main results from the U.S. population and of Trump voters in par - - survey inform our understanding of the under ticular. Nonetheless, it affords a view into the lying logic of Trump voters’ thinking. First, the inner logic of some voters’ thinking, which is sufficient to rule in the possibility of our Trump voters among the survey participants viewed Trump as highly authentic, a perception proposed mechanism as a reason for Trump supporters to see him as authentic. that was significantly correlated with their enthusiasm for him. In particular, among Trump voters, 61.8 percent rated Trump as highly Survey procedure. After explaining the authentic, and only 5.9 percent saw Trump as purported goal of the survey and collecting highly inauthentic; the level of enthusiasm for political and demographic information, par - ticipants were shown the following statement, Trump was significantly higher for the former which Trump posted on his Twitter account on (mean for Trump voters who saw Trump as November 6th, 2012, and which was men- highly authentic = 3.51 versus mean for Trump voters who saw Trump as highly inauthentic = tioned multiple times by the media during his 22 = 2.26; presidential campaign: “The concept of global 4.91; p < .05; DF = 122). t Moreover, warming was created by and for the Chinese not only did Trump voters perceive Trump to in order to make U.S. manufacturing non- be more authentic than Clinton (M for Trump = competitive.” We chose this statement because 2.48 versus M for Clinton = 5.15; t = 15.74; it is demagogic in that it violates the publicly- < .001; DF = 370), but Trump voters’ percep- p endorsed norm of not making unsubstantiated tion of Trump’s authenticity was higher than accusations against another country while Clinton’s authen- Clinton voters’ perception of appealing to xenophobic beliefs about China ticity (M for Trump voters on Trump = 2.48 that many Americans may harbor. Further - versus M for Clinton voters on Clinton = 3.68; 23 more, it was publicized as untrue by the We find no p < .001; DF = 361). t = 7.02; media. We presented the statement as a false- simple relationship between perceptions of a hood to participants, who were told that “[t]his candidate’s authenticity and support for that statement has definitively been demonstrated candidate. At least among these survey respon- to be factually untrue.” Then, after an atten- dents, Trump voters’ high rating of his authen- tion-check, participants were asked three ticity is distinctive.
27 Hahl et al. 27 The second main result is that the principal addition, Trump’s perceived authenticity was way these Trump voters reconciled Trump’s also significantly higher than his perceived lying demagoguery with his perceived authen- warmth among Trump voters (M for authen- ticity was by recognizing the demagogic lie as = ticity = 2.48 versus M for warmth = 3.41; t a lie but justifying it as symbolic protest. To be p < .001; DF = 370). This reflects the 5.98; observation that Trump’s supporters appreci- sure, Trump voters were significantly more ated him as an “authentic jerk” (Zogby 2016). likely than Clinton voters to rate the false demagogic statement as true: 68.8 percent of This is in line with how study participants who were in the same social category as the these Trump voters saw the statement as highly false, compared to 95.5 percent of Clinton vot- lying demagogue perceived the lying dema- ers (M for Trump voters = 5.90 versus M for gogue when there was a legitimacy crisis. p < .001; DF = Finally, and again in line with the experi- t = 6.80; Clinton voters = 6.80; 361). But 68.8 percent of survey participants mental results, we did not find evidence that who supported Trump rated the statement as perceptions of Trump’s authenticity vary by only 5.34 percent of Trump gender. Women saw him as less authentic (M = highly false, and 24 voters saw the statement as highly true . 4.00) than did men (M = 4.28), although not = .21; DF = 395). p = 1.27; t significantly so ( By contrast, Trump supporters were sig- Nor were women different from men in percep- nificantly more likely to justify the lie as a form of symbolic protest. In particular, a sig- tions of Trump’s competence (M for women = nificantly higher fraction of Trump voters 4.11 versus M for men = 4.11; t = .18; p = .86; DF = 395). Note, however, that there were gen- literally mean the agreed that Trump did not Chinese created the concept of global warm- der differences in perceptions of Clinton. Men ing than rated the statement as true (M = 3.91 saw Clinton as marginally less authentic (M for p women = 4.68 versus M for men = 4.32; = t = 11.63; t versus M = 5.90; < .001; DF = 25 p Trump voters were also much more 370). < .06; DF = 395), an effect driven by 1.93; Clinton voters (M for women = 3.95 versus M likely to think the statement “was his way of = 2.02; < .05; DF = 395). challenging the elite establishment” than to for men = 3.43; t p Men also saw Clinton as less competent than see the statement as true (M = 3.67 versus M = 26 p = 10.35; t 5.90; Finally, did women (M for women = 3.67 versus M for < .001; DF = 370). men = 3.08; Trump voters were more likely to see Trump t = 2.83; p < .01; DF = 395). as authentic the less they took the statement < .01; DF = Discussion. The post-election survey literally (corr. = .22; t = 3.02; p results provide useful external validity for key 184). Trump voters were also more likely to see Trump as authentic the more they saw the experimental results presented in the article. In short, we see that support for a lying dema- statement as a challenge to elites (corr. = .36; 27 gogue is not simply a desire to ascribe positive < .001; DF = 89). p = 3.61; t The final main result dovetails with key characteristics to a preferred candidate. These Trump voters could have viewed him as warm experimental results from the article: whereas in past research, perceptions of authenticity and sincere, but they did not. They also could have chosen to justify his lie by insisting that it are accompanied by perceptions of sincerity was true. Instead, they justified it as a form of and warmth (Hahl and Zuckerman 2014; symbolic protest, viewing him as increasingly Hahl et al. 2017), this was not the case here. authentic the more they did so. Finally, Trump In particular, among Trump voters, Trump’s supporters in our sample were more enthusias- perceived authenticity was significantly tic in their support of him to the extent that higher than his perceived sincerity (M for they used this justification. Were we to only authenticity = 2.48 versus M for sincerity = = .01; DF = 370), a result have these results, however, we would be left 2.87; t = 2.52; p consistent with the interpretation that Trump with the puzzle of what prompted Trump vot- supporters recognized that he was lying but ers to use such motivated reasoning. Our the- viewed him as authentic nonetheless. In ory suggests that they believed the political
28 28 83(1) American Sociological Review POW (and current U.S. Senator) John McCain of system was treating their social category unfairly, having been a poor airman. Trump also publicly either because the establishment was self-serv- impugned the impartiality of a Federal judge due ing (representation crisis) or because the estab- to his Mexican heritage, violating the norm that all lishment was illegitimately favoring upstart U.S. citizens—and certainly judges—are presumed equally committed to upholding the law regardless social categories (power-devaluation crisis). Our of their racial, ethnic, or religious origins. Finally, experimental results validate the conjecture that Trump began his political career by assuming lead- the authentic appeal of a lying demagogue is ership of the “birther” movement, which alleged indeed enabled by such conditions. against all evidence that President Obama was not born in the United States—an allegation Trump eventually dropped without explanation while sug- Acknowledgments gesting falsely that Clinton’s 2008 campaign had Thanks to Bart Bonikowski, Daphne Demetry, Bob Free- originated the allegation. land, Simon Friis, Roman Galperin, Brayden King, Mark 6. Hong’s norm violations were also countless. For Mizruchi, Brendan Nyhan, Mike Sauder, and audiences instance, he proudly stated in his autobiography that at the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, he conspired to rape his female college classmate, the Hebrew University Department of Sociology, the and he stood by the statement during the campaign, Economic Sociology Working Group at MIT Sloan, and which was largely treated with dismay even by his the MIT-Harvard Economic Sociology Seminar for their conservative base (Choe and Goldman 2017). very valuable input. The usual disclaimer applies. 7. Following Hahl and colleagues (2017), we maintain that this definition underlies lay uses of the term “authenticity” by Americans (we also believe it uni- notes fies various treatments by scholars). This assump- 1. The post-election survey described in the Appendix tion is indirectly tested in our studies via predictive provides some support for the widespread observa- validity. Insofar as our experimental studies suc- tion (e.g., Nyhan 2015) that Clinton had an authen- cessfully manipulate perceptions of authenticity in ticity problem. line with our theory, this implies that respondents 2. Perhaps the most notorious falsehood in Clinton’s overlap in how they use the term. We appreciate the career was her 2008 statement that, in 1996 in her help of Omar Lizardo in helping to clarify the con- capacity as First Lady of the United States, she ceptual issues here. landed in Bosnia “under sniper fire” (see Kessler 8. Arguably, this is not a lie because he did not intend 2016). to raise taxes at the time he made the pledge (the 3. Trump himself admitted that in the past he had been 1988 presidential campaign). We would contend, “greedy . . . I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. however, that the premise of a blanket pledge like But now I want to be greedy for the United States” one knows oneself so well that one can this is that (Golshan 2016). Beyond appearing to care about - commit to not violating the pledge under any cir his personal fortune, he was widely seen as extraor - cumstances . dinarily sensitive to criticism, engaging in pub- 9. Carroll and Wheaton (2009) call this “moral” lic feuds with various critics, such as the reporter authenticity (see also Hahl 2016). Of course, the Megyn Kelly. lying demagogue is not moral, as defined by estab- 4. As of February 19, 2017, including Trump’s time as lishment norms, but the very “immoral” actions that candidate and his first month as president, Politifact make him a lying demagogue can (under certain rated 33 percent of his statements as “half true” or circumstances) fit the moral authenticity defini- “mostly false” and 50 percent as “false” or “pants tion—and thus help establish his standing as a true on fire.” representative of the suppressed people he claims 5. Trump’s norm violations were so numerous they are to serve. In our analyses, we show how even mem- hard to catalogue. Some, such as name calling (e.g., bers of his own party see the lying demagogue as an “Lying Ted” [for his primary opponent Senator Ted “authentic jerk.” Cruz] and “Little Marco” [for his primary opponent 10. See Donald J. Trump’s “I am your voice!” Senator Marco Rubio]), were so routine that the appeal to voters, issued at the 2016 Republican deviance became normalized (cf. Vaughan 1996). National Convention (https://www.youtube.com/ Moreover, while Clinton labored to signal her com- watch?v=BEuboZ98TxE). mitment to the norms she violated (by apologizing 11. This is in fact a quite common debate on college for past failures or suggesting the violations were campuses in recent years (Duncan 2015), and our unintended), Trump often defended his norm viola- design is reflective of real-world examples where tions as justified. For example, it is a basic norm there are often coherent principles for both sides. of any nation-state that prisoners of war are to be Otherwise (i.e., if there is only one reasonable side treated with reverence, but Trump accused former of argument), subjects may think that the candidate
29 Hahl et al. 29 and less competent (among both Clinton and Trump is simply not very capable (Phillips, Turco, and voters) than did women. Zuckerman 2013). 19. We lay out the exact wording used in each manipu- Another possibility is that each candidate’s con- 12. lation in an online supplement. stituencies had different personalities, with some 13. To test whether we generated a representation evidence suggesting that Trump supporters scored high on measures of authoritarianism (e.g., Petti- crisis as planned, we ran a series of Wilcoxon- grew 2017). Our results cast serious doubt on the Mann-Whitney signed-rank tests comparing the causal direction of such results, suggesting they are authenticity ratings of the Q2-type incumbent can- the result of location in socio-political space rather didate in the representation crisis conditions with the ratings of the Q2-type candidate in the no rep- than the cause. conditions, all else being equal. resentation crisis 20. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8TwRm Insofar as a representation crisis elicits a sense that X6zs4. 21. Another enabling factor may be Trump’s paradoxi- members of the S2-type (outsider) category are not cal tendency to tell the truth when most politicians fairly represented, the Q2-type (incumbent) candi- would tell a “prosocial lie” (Levine and Schweitzer date should consistently appear less authentic in the representation crisis 2015; cf. Mearsheimer 2010). In particular, since no repre- conditions than in the his inauguration, on several occasions Trump has sentation crisis conditions. Results confirm that the revealed information that was presumably either manipulation worked as intended (mean authenticity injurious to the public welfare (e.g., revealing clas- of Q2-type [incumbent] candidate in the representa- sified information to the Russian foreign minister tion crisis conditions = 3.59 versus mean authentic- no crisis [Rosenberg and Schmitt 2017]) or to himself (e.g., ity of Q2-type [incumbent] candidate in the -score = 11.54; by informing an interviewer that he had fired Attor - conditions = 5.41; W = 8651.5; z p < .001). Results are substantively the same even if we ney General James Comey because of “this Russia thing” [Baker and Shear 2017]). Ironically, tell- restrict analyses to participants who were randomly ing the truth under such circumstances may make assigned to the Q2-type (thus creating identification with the incumbent candidate). This is additional Trump seem more authentic when he is telling common-knowledge lies. This tendency was also evidence that identification with the candidate alone does not necessarily lead voters to view all of a can- in evidence when Trump was a candidate, such as when Trump admitted to holding grudges—some- didate’s blemishes as beautiful. thing that most people deny (see Jacobs and Hahn 14. The authors regret having to repeat such a misogy- nistic statement, and certainly do not endorse it. 2015). 22. In Study 1, we also assigned subjects to “intermedi- 15. We define “highly authentic” as when participants gave a 1 or a 2 on a seven-point scale (e.g., 1 = very ate” conditions in which the candidate either only lied or only used the demagogic or inflammatory authentic to 7 = very inauthentic). Conversely, by statement. We only present results from the full “highly inauthentic,” we mean participants gave a 6 lying demagogue (both lying and demagogic) and or 7 on the same scale. We use the same definition baseline (neither lying nor demagogic) conditions. for the term “highly” for all other items. Results from the intermediate conditions show that Among Clinton voters, 29.94 percent saw Clinton 23. as highly authentic, and 17.51 percent saw her as either lying or making demagogic statements elicit increased perceptions of authenticity in the rep- highly inauthentic. resentation crisis as predicted by the Hypotheses. Among Clinton voters, .56 percent saw the state- 24. ment as highly true. Note, though, that this effect is weaker in these 25. Unsurprisingly, Trump voters (M = 3.91) were intermediate conditions than if the candidate used lying both much more likely than Clinton voters (M = 5.88) to demagogic statements in his speech. and mean” the statement Because of this, for Study 2 we excluded the inter - agree that “he did not literally mediate conditions. ( t = 11.67; p < .001; DF = 361). t Trump voters (M = 3.67) were also more likely than 16. Because 26. -test assumes equal variance between two Clinton voters (M = 5.37) to agree that “[the state- populations of comparisons, which we cannot neces- sarily assume in our samples, we use the Mann-Whit- ment] was his way of sending a message that he is p < ney test that does not necessitate that assumption opposed to the ‘elite’ establishment” ( t = 6.30; .001; DF = 179). (Fay and Proschan 2000; Wilcoxon 1945). There was no statistically significant tendency for 27. 17. Figure 8 reports results from Study 1 only. Results Trump voters to see Trump as more authentic the from Study 2 are substantively similar. 18. Note that, as reported in the Appendix, we also less they saw his statement as motivated by “power = .32; DF = found no evidence in the post-election survey and popularity” (corr. = –.10; t = .99; p for a gender difference in perceptions of Donald 93). This reflects the fact that they saw no neces- Trump’s authenticity. Yet, men did see Clinton as sary contradiction between his pursuit of power and less authentic (significant among Clinton voters) popularity and his pursuit of their interests.
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33 Hahl et al. 33 Yamagishi, Toshio, and Toko Kiyonari. 2000. “The Minjae Kim is a PhD student in the Economic Sociology Group as the Container of Generalized Reciprocity.” Program at MIT Sloan School of Management. This article 63(2):116–32. Social Psychology Quarterly relates to his broader research agenda of (a) how actors Yglesias, Matthew. 2017. “The Bullshitter-in-Chief.” signal their identities such as capability, commitment, and American Sociological . May 30 (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-polit Vo x authenticity (see his 2017 article in ics/2017/5/30/15631710/trump-bullshit). Review with Oliver Hahl and Ezra Zuckerman); and (b) Zito, Salena. 2016. “Taking Trump Seriously, Not Lit- when and why audience assessment of commitment leads to perpetuation of norms (or a lack thereof; see his 2017 September 23 (https://www The Atlantic, erally.” Sociological Science article in with Ezra Zuckerman). He .theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/trump- also studies when actors are motivated to relay information makes-his-case-in-pittsburgh/501335/). Zogby, John. 2016. “Clinton, Trump and the Battle for Social Science via their social ties (see his 2017 article in Forbes Research . Retrieved April 10, 2017 Authenticity.” with Roberto Fernandez). (http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnzogby/2016/09/24/ is Deputy Dean and the clinton-trump-and-the-battle-for-authenticity/). Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan Alvin J. Siteman (1948) Professor of Strategy and Entre- is Assistant Professor of Organization The- Oliver Hahl preneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also cofounder of MIT Sloan’s PhD Program in Eco- ory and Strategy and Frank A. and Helen E. Frisch Devel- opment Professor of Business at Carnegie Mellon nomic Sociology. This article is the latest in a joint University’s Tepper School of Business. This article is stream of work with Oliver Hahl and Minjae Kim (described in their biographical statements). To be clear, part of a stream of work related to shifts in demand for authenticity (see 2016 article in however, this research agenda did not include any plans and Organization Science with Ezra to write an article like the current one until we were American Sociological Review 2017 article in Zuckerman and Minjae Kim) and the relationship between shocked into confronting the puzzle of the “authentic status and authenticity (see 2014 article in appeal of the lying demagogue” on November 8, 2016. - American Jour with Ezra Zuckerman). This is part of a nal of Sociology broader research agenda on how audience perceptions of motives influence valuation in markets.