Tribalism pp 49-75 | Cite as

We Believe What Protects Us and Our Tribe



We wish to see ourselves as rational beings, not blind to our emotions and prejudices. We see ourselves as having clear and even brilliant insights into ourselves, politics, the economy, raising our children, handling our love lives, and determining how our favorite sports teams ought to be managed. That our “brilliance” only increases with liquor should have been a warning, but our biases are deeply camouflaged in our need to see ourselves as correct and justified.

The question arises as to whether the departure from truth politics to fear politics is predictable, and it clearly is. In particular, those who are most susceptible to fear messaging and the twisting of truth are those who feel threatened or who have experienced loss. In this way, the experience of loss creates an opportunity for further fear messaging, especially about the “outgroup,” “the enemy,” “the refugee,” “Muslims,” “Jews,” “Mexicans,” or those who wish to commit “war on Christianity.”

Authoritarian politicians exploit this twisting of truth by creating perceived realities through repeated fear messaging. Repeated fear messaging foments the sense of feeling threatened and endangered, and if it comes repeatedly from believed sources, be they a President or talk radio, they become reality.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behaviorial SciencesRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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