Why We Pick Leaders with Deceptively Simple Answers

As Freud saw it, groups amplify emotions and inhibit critical thinking. When people come together in numbers, they are more likely to be swept up in a shared fear or to be enthused by a common faith than they are to engage in reasoned problem solving. For Freud, group membership is a kind of love that makes people vulnerable and often spells trouble. Groups, he observed, are eager to follow not those who present the most accurate picture of reality, but those who most clearly reflect group members’ cherished ideals. And the more distressing the group’s reality is, the more those ideals became divorced from it.

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