Politics & Policy

What Personality Research Reveals about Trump Supporters

Trump with supporters in Norfolk, Va., in October. (Sara D. Davis/Getty)
They tend to share some particular traits.

At Knozen, the personality site that I founded, we ask millions of personality questions each month of our more than 1 million users. Given the grip the Trump phenomenon has exerted on the American attention span, we wanted to see the personality differences (and similarities) between those who said they were and were not likely to vote Trump.

Digging into the specific answers of more than 4,000 users, we found five differences and some similarities between Trump supporters and non-supporters. The specific results are indicated in bold below and are based on responses to more than 700,000 questions including “are you likely to vote for Trump?”

According to Knozen’s personality research, Trump supporters are:

Very, very aggressive compared with non-supporters.

We also found that Trump supporters are:

‐Half as likely to be afraid of large crowds.

‐Half as likely to cheat on a board game.

‐Half as likely to marry someone from another country and move there.

Our standard chart can be seen at the Knozen homepage. We show users how they rank on twelve personality traits compared with the rest of the population.

The personality chart of the typical “Trump Supporter,” based on our research, is below.

A movement’s fans will tend to reflect their leader, and in this case, that comes through very clearly in the data.

A movement’s fans will tend to reflect their leader, and in this case, that comes through very clearly in the data.

Compared with non-supporters, a Trump supporter is much more outgoing, much more organized, and very, very aggressive. The difference was so stark, that we joked “the aggression broke our chart!” You can certainly see the movement’s preference for “let’s make America great again,” as opposed to “go along to get along” diplomacy, reflected in the personalities of its members.

We also found that Trump supporters were slightly less confident than non-Trump supporters. A common refrain has Trump supporters feeling under pressure, and put upon, by the changes taking place in the country and in the economy.

Trump supporters were much less patient, shy, and “random” than non-supporters. These are not the meek and the timid in their community. Nor are they urbane sophisticates with a zany sense of humor or the surreal.

These are chatty, sociable people

Trump supporters are much more likely to answer yes to just about any question having to do with being sociable. One of the strongest findings in our research was just how much the typical Trump supporter relies on, and draws strength from, the ties of their community.

They are more likely to keep in touch with old friends, consider themselves a “people person,” or start a conversation with good-looking stranger.

In fact, they’ll be sociable with just about anybody. They’re much more likely to like meeting new people, pick up a hitchhiker, or talk to a random person while waiting in line.

Average Joes

Trump supporters are “average Joes,” and they experience routine setbacks at a much higher rate than non-supporters do. They are more likely to have run out of gas in the middle of nowhere or have sold something they owned to pay a debt.

Given their experiences, and their preference for socializing, they’ve learned to live off their own capabilities, relying far less on the opinions of others. Thus, they are less likely to choose book smarts over street smarts or spend the entire day on the internet.

#share#

Trump supporters are hard-hat middle Americans and share little in common with cultural hipsters

Many of the obsessions that dominate the Internet seem to pass the Trump supporter by, and they engage in few of the fads, memes, or obsessions of hipster culture. Trump supporters are less likely to sing in the shower, watch Netflix for a week straight, or be fans of comic-book movies. They’re less likely to have a food or drink that they can’t live without, and they are less likely to read the book instead of seeing the film.

They are not quirky introverts. Trump supporters are much less likely to be afraid of being alone, tell really bad puns, or have one special thing about themselves that other people find weird.

On the other hand, they clearly have stronger ties to a traditional American past. They are much more likely to be religious or have milked a cow.

They are also comfortable in their own skins  —  they were a third more likely to be “doing what you believe in.”

That sense of comfort with their place also makes them uncomfortable with behaviors that they see as artificially drawing attention to oneself or acting out. They are much less likely to cheat on a board game, have someone that they envy, or think it’s okay for guys to wear skirts.

They are not a fast-and-loose, jet-set crowd, with one stunning exception

Trump supporters are much less likely to speak more than one language. In fact, this question was the single largest difference between Trump supporters and non-supporters, with non-supporters being three times more likely to speak more than one language. (Although it’s a statistical tie with the “guys wearing skirts” question.)

Trump supporters were also less likely to want to marry someone from another country and move there. As a matter of fact, they’re 50 percent more likely to be fine with where they are right now.

The biggest exception to this stable lifestyle came in their relationships.

Trump supporters are twice as likely to have cheated on someone and twice as likely to have had two dates in one night. It was remarkable to find this exception in an otherwise typical picture of middle-American traditionalism. It’s also a remarkable reflection of the leader of the movement’s own experiences with past spouses.

Machismo

The energy and excitement that supporters, detractors, and reporters alike find at Trump campaign-event appearances is a natural outgrowth of the rootin’-tootin’ nature of the typical Trump supporter.

They are more likely to have fired a gun, ridden a motorcycle, sneaked out of the house, and to want to run their own company.

And, significantly, for the purposes of putting on these enormous campaign events, they are half as likely as non-supporters to be afraid of large crowds.

That’s a hell of a party to throw!

Where are we the same?

So if those are the differences between Trump supporters and non-supporters, what are the similarities? We looked for questions where both Trumps and non-Trumps said yes more than 66 percent of the time, and the difference between their answers was less than 1 percent.

We found two areas that Trump supporters and non-supporters have in common.

It turns out that all of us share a certain goodness

Trump supporters and non-supporters are equally likely to say they’d give up their life’s passion to keep true love. I actually found that heart-warming.

Both sides also equally likely to volunteer for an extra project, double-check their spelling, and think they’re a trusting person.

Both sides may shake their heads to find out they’re equally likely to say they don’t believe the hype. But that’s okay, because both sides say they’re equally likely to forgive and forget.

And perhaps most endearingly, both Trump supporters and non-supporters have bought someone a gift for no reason in the past month.

In addition to our goodness, all of us are humans and have our foibles

Supporters and non-supporters are equally likely to have something they’d like to change about themselves, and to think of themselves as sentimental. Sadly, they’re equally likely to have been stood up before.

#related#We don’t know what to make of the fact that 70 percent of both Trump supporters and non-supporters said they have a secret they’ll take to their grave.

And the final thing we all agree on?

76.36 percent of Trump supporters and 76.97 percent of non-supporters said that they are a dog person.

Perhaps there’s hope for us yet.

— Marc Cenedella is the founder of Ladders and Knozen. A version of this article originally appeared on Medium and is republished with the author’s permission.

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