The 2016 election was probably one of the most memorable elections of this generations’ lifetime. No one could have guessed that TV personality and businessman Donald Trump would not only run for presidency, but also win and become the 45th president of the United States. Besides Donald Trump’s lack of political experience, what really surprised many was his outspoken, unfiltered, and more times than not, very controversial way of speaking. During this election, many well-known names spoke out against Trump and publicly voiced their political position. Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Meryl Streep, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and many others made it known that they were against Trump and fully supported his opposing candidate, Hillary Clinton. Though many celebrities spoke out and against Trump, one celebrity in particular, one who many would expect to follow the same route remained relatively silent and because of this has received some backlash for it.
In an article by one of Cosmopolitan’s contributors and authors, Mehera Bonner, Bonner discuses how singer-songwriter Taylor Swift recently received some backlash from actress Lola Kirke for not using her platform to denounce Trump. Kirke’s stance was that Taylor might as well have supported Trump since she remained silent during the election. Bonner writes, “There’s no obligation for celebrities to tell their fans who they voted for. But — in the age of Trump — the phrase “silence is compliance” gets thrown around for good reason.” This article presents an example of conformity. Conformity is a change in behavior or belief as the result or real or imagined group pressure (Myers, 2015). Two main reasons why individuals conform are because they believe that the mass majority knows something that they don’t, and therefore they must be right. The other reason is to avoid any discomfort or possible judgment that comes with disagreeing or going against the mass. This article presents a perfect example of nonconformity and what can result. By not conforming and not following the same path as other popular celebrities, Taylor Swift received some pretty harsh feedback. Though she did not reveal whom she was voting for, Swift made it clear that she was voting through social media. Many would assume that she did in fact vote for Clinton due to her public support for her in 2008. Did Swift remain silent because she supported Trump, or did she just want to remain private for this personal matter? In one article, the topic of political conformity is explored.
In one particular study, it was tested to see if individuals would conform on political issues and which individual differences influence this behavior. The study revealed that individuals do alter their political opinions they share with others whom they disagree with (Carlsen, 2016). It was found that many individuals, more than 80%, did alter their previously stated political views. It was also found that when in a group with other participants, the majority disagreeing with the main subject’s viewpoint, the participant was more likely to conform.
Taylor Swift’s reason for remaining silent during this past election is still unknown, but based on the study there could be several theories as to why she kept quiet. Taylor Swift has been very active in various causes throughout her career. She has promoted the Every Woman Counts campaign and she has spoken out against LGBT discrimination. Due to her active participation in more liberal causes, the mass majority of her fan base more than likely supported Clinton. If Taylor Swift did have opposing views to the majority and possibly decided to vote for Trump for other reasons, her awareness of her fan base may have led her to keep her silence in regards to this election. By remaining silent, Swift would avoid possible controversy and fallout with her and her fans.
Carlson, Taylor N. and Jaime E. Settle. “Political Chameleons: An Exploration of Conformity in Political Discussions.” Political Behavior, vol. 38, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 817-859. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11109-016-9335-y.
Bonner, M. (2017, March 17). Lola Kirke Slams Taylor Swift for Staying Silent About Trump. Retrieved from
Myers, D. G. (2015) Exploring Social Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.