How Do You Like Me Now? College Students’ Perceptions of Candidate Characteristics Pre & Post Trump

Cognitive dissonance may alter students’ political and personal preferences to align more closely with the values of their party (Bølstad, 2013). Conservatives typically prefer candidates perceived as powerful, strong leaders, while liberals prefer candidates with warm, empathetic, agreeable personalities (Lausten, 2017).  Reputation and alignment with party views is also important (Dinas, 2016). Changes in influencer group could have altered preferences as well (Chan, 2013). Controversies surrounding the 2016 election and Trump Presidency might have altered students’ perceptions of what is important in a political candidate. This study examines the importance of compassion, being fair/unbiased and being honest/ethical to Freshmen and Senior students’ sense of self and the importance of these qualities in political candidates. Students enrolled at a Midwestern regional university during the 2016 (227 students) and 2018 (155 students) election cycles were surveyed using a version of the AASCU’s Political Engagement Project’s post survey to assess attitudes.  Seniors were most influenced by recent political events and effects differed by political affiliation. Concern about whether political candidates are fair/unbiased and compassionate have increased for Democratic students and decreased for others. It seems the Trump Presidency has polarized the college campus just as it has the nation. 

[O_U logged_status=“in”]

[/O_U]

[O_U logged_status=”out”]

To participate in MEHA 2020, you must log in or create a new account.

[/O_U]

  • Penney Nichols-Whitehead {Psychology Department, Ferris State University}
  • Poster
  • This study uses data from a version of the AASCU’s Political Engagement Project’s post survey to examine the importance of compassion, being fair/unbiased and being honest/ethical to Freshmen and Senior students’ sense of self and the importance of these qualities in political candidates during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.

  • Psychology and Political Science

5 thoughts on “How Do You Like Me Now? College Students’ Perceptions of Candidate Characteristics Pre & Post Trump”

  1. Catherine Bordeau

    This is such impressive research! I found it fascinating. You also did a wonderful job on your presentation. Congratulations!

  2. That’s a very bold topic to present on, April. Glad you handled it masterfully! It’s so sad too see how polarized people are regarding politics.

    1. Thank you! I agree that the polarization is very saddening. It will be interesting to see if the next elections have a similar or different effect as well.

  3. Jonathan Bontrager

    Well presented, April! Very interesting. What inspired you to choose the three values you did among all the possible values you could have chosen?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *