New Data Teaches Us About Why Trump and Clinton Supporters Can't Understand Each Other

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After a series of three studies studying 138 factors,, an organization focussed on researching bias and belief formation, developed a theory of why Trump and Clinton supporters have so much trouble understanding each other. This work was recently covered in an interview on Huffington Post.

Why can't Trump and Clinton supporters seem to understand each other?

To address this question we ran a series of studies on more than a thousand Trump and Clinton supporters, applying machine learning to test which of 138 factors (including demographic, belief, and personality variables) are the best predictors of which candidate a person supports. Our model achieved 91% accuracy on data we had not yet looked at. The machine learning model, coupled with a follow up study to delve deeper into participant responses, led to surprising insights into why Trump and Clinton supporters have such great difficulty understanding each other. Click here for a visualization of our machine learning model, with commentary. Here is a sampling of a few of our many findings:

1. Perceptions of honesty are massively important in this election. 86% of Clinton voters and 96% of Trump voters in our data said that the opposing candidate seems dishonest when they speak. Remarkably, we discovered that Trump and Clinton supporters have different notions of what honesty actually means. Trump supporters tend to see it in terms of saying what you are really thinking and feeling, which both sides agree Trump is much more likely to do. Whereas Clinton supporters tend to think of honesty in terms of saying what's true, namely, getting facts and statistics correct, which Clinton excels at compared to Trump. From one perspective Trump is much more honest, from the other perspective Clinton is.

2. Feelings about Political correctness were the 4th strongest predictor of who a person would support out of all 138 that we studied. Clinton supporter are actually highly divided about whether there is too much political correctness in our country, while Trump supporters almost unanimously think it has gone too far. Clinton supporters see it as valuable because they believe it reduces how often people are offended, and because they feel it reduces society's tolerance for prejudice. Trump supporters tend to oppose it fervently because they view society as excessively and dangerously oversensitive already, and believe that the current level of political correctness prevents important issues related to terrorism, illegal immigration and race from being discussed.

3. People often claim that Trump is fundamentally a different breed of candidate than we have seen before. While this is true in some ways, we found that this election is still remarkably party driven: the most powerful 2 factors of all 138 we study were whether you were a registered democrat or republican.

Who are we? Our non-partisan organization,, conducts research on bias and belief formation, in addition to offering many free tools and training programs to help people enhance their decision making and improve their lives. Our work has been covered by numerous media organizations, including the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Lifehacker, and Fast Company, and hundreds of thousands of people have used our free tools.

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person_outline  Full Name:Spencer Greenberg
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