Did boredom fuel Donald Trump’s presidential campaign?

(CNN)Donald Trump, a reality show billionaire, will be the Republican candidate for president. Bernie Sanders, a little known socialist Senator, nearly toppled an American political dynasty.

Both expressed views that some have found extreme. Sanders' desire to break up the banks, or Trump's suggestion to ban Muslim immigration, for instance.
    The European Journal of Social Psychology has offered a new intriguing idea that may explain some of the allure of extreme political thinking.



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    This latest research builds on earlier studies (PDF) that show people who feel threatened by their environment also tend to turn to more extreme ideologies. The ideologies give them more of a sense of control and it masks their vulnerabilities. Other studies have shown (PDF) that conservatives and liberals rigidly adhere to extreme ideologies when they want meaning in life. Being bored may be that big of a threat to one's own sense of relevancy.

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    Ian McGregor, a professor at the University of Waterloo whose research is referenced in the latest study, found the research intriguing.
    "It fits with the big web of research out there now on how various threats make people more extreme," McGregor said. "Boredom may not sound like a threat, but if you unpack it, it has a lot of the same features as other threats."
    Boredom, McGregor said, works on the same part of the brain that relates to anxiety. Not the anxiety that causes people to "bite their nails and wring their hands," he said, but the kind of anxiety that someone feels when they are vaguely aware that something bad might happen.
    "With your anxiety system, it will make you look around vigilantly to find something that will mute that feeling," McGregor said. "Boredom can be a deeply profound motivational crisis in a person."
    Gravitating toward an extreme philosophy or person can "mute that anxiety" and help that person feel "that then there is no conflict here."
    Does that mean we have boredom to blame for our polarized politics? Author van Tilburg said he cannot go there.
    "These cases are so complex and there is so much more involved when one supports a particular candidate or cause," van Tilburg said. It's unclear from the tests how big or how small a role boredom plays in political decisions. "We are by no means wanting to suggest that boredom is the main cause for the rise of a particular candidate or cause, but we do show that it can be an influence."
    So, it might be worth asking for opinions on the study's conclusions over drinks with that Bernie bro, Trump or Brexit supporter. You can bet that conversation won't be boring.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/14/health/boredom-extreme-politics/index.html