Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

NPR features Christopher Boehm on the love-hate relationship we have people in power

Posted 16 Jan 2017 / 0

This morning NPR dropped a truly eerie and not-so-subtly cautionary piece on how an understanding of chimpanzee behavior towards dominant individuals can shed light on how we regard both celebrities and our political leaders. Using some nice audio from anthropologist Christopher Boehm, the piece establishes that we humans are not alone in our love-hate relationship with the powerful. As Boehm’s commentary points out, it is really more a respect-distrust relationship that we have with power, and we have a tendency that’s probably at least partially instinctual: if the powerful use their power to provide for the greater good then we laud power, but if the powerful only aggrandize and enrich themselves then we do everything in our power to undermine the powerful. The end of the piece connects this to Donald Trump, the celebrity-cum-political leader. Some of us may already see Trump as the self-aggrandizer, but those who don’t expect him to deliver for their greater good. It will be interesting to see how this latest primate political drama plays out over the next four years.

A Minor Post, Behavior, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Primatology, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Social Norms

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