Scientists say they have discovered why people voted for Donald Trump and Brexit.
Psychologists and political scientists at the universities of Kent, Warsaw and Maryland say voters are more likely to opt fro populist ideologies when they feel disadvantaged.
These could be ideas that speak to the average person, such as those promised by the US president and campaigners who want the UK to leave the European Union.
The study found that populist movements gained strength from what it called ‘national collective narcissism’, or the belief in a nation’s greatness, whatever its faults.
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Those who had felt disadvantaged in society over a long period of time were more likely to feel a sense of collective narcissism, the study said.
The research was published in the journal Populism as Identity Politics.
Researchers warned that populist leaders like Mr Trump can create a ‘defensive and destructive’ national perspective by concentrating on a narrative of disadvantage.
Dr Aleksandra Cichocka, from the University of Kent’s School of psychology, said the results may partially explain why populism is often linked to prejudicial attitudes.
Three studies were carried out for the research in the UK, the US and Poland.
The first examined collective narcissism versus conventional national identification using data from Poland in 2014.
A second study looked at the Brexit referendum and found that those who felt disadvantaged were more likely to adopt populist views.
The third piece of research examined Mr Trump’s run to the White House, and found that Americans who felt disadvantaged in comparison to immigrants were part of a collective narcissism movement that swept the Republican candidate into the Oval Office.
The authors wrote: ‘Populists combine anti-elitism with a conviction that they hold a superior vision of what it means to be a true citizen of their nation.
‘We expected support for populism to be associated with national collective narcissism—an unrealistic belief in the greatness of the national group, which should increase in response to perceived in-group disadvantage.’