Sorry Trump, Greenland Isn’t For Sale

Ever since Trump has been elected into office in 2016, there’s not a day that goes by where the average American isn’t bombarded with countless articles about him, both in support and against. Some of the things his administration has done have been pretty shocking, yet Americans are still surprised every now and then. As August was coming to a close, Trump and his administration expressed interest in buying Greenland. America, Greenland, and Denmark (the country that Greenland belongs to) were in shock. There was speculation that it was a joke, but it was soon discovered he was completely serious. According to Mcdonald (2019), interest in Greenland is due to “new North Atlantic shipping lanes opening up due to melting polar ice caps”. Greenland is a jackpot for natural resources such as, “coal, zinc, copper, iron ore and rare minerals” (McDonald 2019). 

It’s no surprise that Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, responded with a firm “no,” stating, “Greenland is not for sale.” And Trump’s reaction? Neuman (2019) states he called Frederiksen’s comments “nasty” after she shut down the idea and canceled his scheduled trip to Denmark. He then went on to tweet about it. 

So what exactly do Trump’s interest and response have to do with social psychology? Throughout the whole exchange, Trump demonstrated characteristics of narcissism and self-serving bias. Narcissism is an inflated self-image. While we are not here to diagnose Trump, it’s important to analyze his actions. He demonstrated characteristics of narcissism by having overconfidence in claiming Greenland, then lashed out by insulting Fredriksen when she told him no. His ego was publicly wounded, therefore he needed a way to boost himself up. Myers and Twenge offer an explanation in the text as to why narcissists behave like this, which can be applied to Trump. Myers (2018) states that due to the growing culture of materialism, narcissism is also growing. Trump is a very materialistic, wealthy man who has been like this since he started his business. Success has always been present in his life. Due to the way he has lived, he isn’t used to the limitations that come with being president, therefore he is seen to be lashing out in public confrontations.

Self-serving bias is where a person has a favorable view of him or herself. In this case, Trump seems to blame his failure on not getting Greenland on the prime minister, instead of considering that he approached the situation inappropriately. It can be seen in his responses to Denmark’s denial that blames external factors instead of blaming himself and his administration. Before he was president, he was a successful businessman. Unfortunately, his tactics to buy Greenland did not seem to work. In the case that he was successful, he would probably credit the success of his own abilities and efforts.

While Trump is the leader of the free world, there are limitations to his power, whether he likes it or not.

Ciccollela, F. (2018). Modern love. Francesco Ciccollela. 

Mcdonald, J. (2019 August 21) Here’s why Trump wants to buy Greenland. CNBC. Retrieved from 

Myers, D. G., Twenge, J.M. (2018). Exploring Social Psychology (Eighth Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Neuman, S. (2019 August 19). No joke: Trump really does want to buy Greenland. NPR.

Neuman, S., Ingber, S. (2019 August 21). Trump skips visit to Denmark, calls Danish leader ‘nasty’ for Greenland sale rebuff”.  NPR.

@realDonaldTrump. (2019 August 20, 7:51 p.m.). Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time…. Twitter.

@realdonaldTrump. (2019 August 19, 8:07 p.m.). I promise not to do this to Greenland! Twitter.

@realDonaldTrump. (2019 August 20, 7:51 p.m.) ….The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future! Twitter. 

Shannon Roberson

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