Voters are good at detecting phonies. A google search for “fake” and the name of a losing American presidential candidate the day after the election yielded cynical comments about his fake tan, his staged charity, his fictive heritage, his fraudulent polls, and his rigged voting machines. The winner did little better, but, on average, polled as more motivated to serve the interests of middle-class voters. The candidate–voter dynamic depends on politicians being trusted not to put their own self-interest (gaining and keeping power) over that of the voters who elect them. We argue here that trust is a critical – if not the critical – judgment that voters make. Every few years, voters evaluate candidates, and political leaders result. Much ink, many minutes, and even more bytes analyze elections both formally (political science) and informally (public media). But elections are about people, and social psychologists know a lot about people. We come to this project as social psychologists interested in how people make sense of individuals as group members and groups as society members. As we will show, politicians are acknowledged to be powerful, but are disliked and distrusted around the world. We argue that the politician-versus-citizen distrust depends on a failure of relational accountability, citizens’ lacking trust in politicians’ shared intentions. Politicians have a goal to get and maintain power, and voters have a goal to elect politicians who will represent their interests and adopt competent policies. Knowing for sure only that a candidate wants to win power, voters must infer whether the candidate genuinely cares about anything else, and, if so, represents their long-term shared interests. Apparently most politicians consistently fail on this dimension.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Power, Politics, and Paranoia|
|Subtitle of host publication||Why People are Suspicious of their Leaders|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||15|
|State||Published - Jul 1 2014|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes