Trump & The Promise of Radical Change – Emotion wins against Ratio. Always…?

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Image: Edited, based on Original by Michael Vadon, (usage rights: CCSA4)


November 9th 2016: This presidential election outcome is no miracle.

The people in the United States wanted a political change. And since a relevant part of US citizens did not feel represented by their government and politics they chose the candidate promising more or less a radical change.

Remember Barack Obama’s “Change” program? He did change a lot … but, also due to political oppositions, was not able to keep all his promises. In the end it was the same semi conscious want and need for change that now did support Donald Trump’s election.

The Republican candidate promised the needed change – but: his promises fpr change were easy understandable simple solutions, less sophisticated, more emotional, less socially inclusive for all in the U.S. – by concept, content and communication intensely dramatic and polemic. An outcry for change that emotionally dramatized all topics, including some big and often hugely exaggerated tales, even illogical – but quick to understand and promising fast and easy solutions as well as pointing fingers to others.

Those statements that fell on fertile ground were selected, repeated and extended by Trump’s campaign and thus settled in public opinion.

Emotional insights and opinions are difficult to be shifted by logical facts.

Why is this so? Why is it seemingly difficult, to reach out to emotionally affected people by telling them less emotional logical facts?

Emotion is more effective than logic: Because of nature always has been taking care of our survival as humans since prehistoric times (when our kind came up). Survival sometimes needs really fast actions. No time for thinking. Because of this survival cause we have two “brains”, two decision making neural systems.

Our neural system likes fast (more emotional and subconscious) processing. It prefers this against “fact checking” and logical topics. The latter are processed by the more conscious brain functions. Their disadvantage: they are a bit slower than the subconscious emotional system and consume more energy.

And nature always seeks and chooses solutions that use the least energy. This also influences thinking and subconscious decision making. So if it’s about survival or similar stress (social, power related, existential, etc.) then slow calculating thinking isn’t wanted or needed.

Emotions count. Subconscious and efficient – and fast. Survival instincts become activated as soon as our survial system thinks that we are in danger. And we are living in times causing stress similar to survival related pressure.

2 Brains – easy to play

The emotionally disturbing facts we learn from neuro sciences and psychology: our “two brains” are easy to play. Because they are very old. Human evolution always kept them alive. Because they were so helpful. When it comes to a situation when life depends on a quick decision, e.g. if the shadow behind the bushes is a lion or an antelope, then it’s best not to think for costly seconds but to act asap: Run – or attack.

Survival stress: We are living in turbulent times. Several established structures, traditions and hierarchies in economy and society are experiencing pressure to adapt to new technologies, digital shift and even some forced transparency.

The digital shift is disruptive.

Disruption, this nice and hip established buzzword. Disruption translates as a status where things are being torn apart. Where many of those being involved will be forced to change and even invent themselves anew.

Currently we live in a globally fast growing world. An insecure world for those who are not capable to grow or change with its pace. Where new solutions are just around the corner. A world that isn’t always patiently waiting for the slow indecisive or laggards.

Fertile ground for quick and easy solutions, for building boundaries and fortifying walls.

That’s what we are getting these days and the upcoming years. Including extremist and populist parties and politicians in Europe and other countries.

Two worlds are fighting:

The new world with digital shift and globalization of transparency and interconnected new direct democratic methods and new values empowers efficiency and new solutions – and the old world based on traditional established hierarchies and structures.

Nature always tries to use as little energy as possible. No good behavioral heritage when pressure to change is burning up.

The old world will have to adapt and grow and evolve. But some parts of it are fighting like hell to prevent real change. Which sounds illogical since many of the old world’s protagonists claim the change.

But they rather want to change some innovations back to long gone outdated traditions than recognize the needed real change.

Future starts now. If we want to maintain the initiative, we’ll have to keep in regard that some behavioral-neurological parts of us humans are working based on emotions and not only logical ratio.

Future starts with awareness how to handle emotions and intuition in a positive non-destructive and socially inclusive way.


Author: Walter Matthias Kunze is Founder and CEO of trendquest, leading think tank in Germany for strategies, social and consumer trends, behavioral economics values.


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Johannes C. Adari, HDI - Teilnehmer Trade Wars-Trendtalk 2018


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