The Duty to Support Nationalistic Policies
26 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2009 Last revised: 28 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 17, 2009
We demonstrate that citizens perceive a duty to support policies that benefit their nation, even when they themselves judge that the consequences of the policies will be worse on the whole, taking outsiders into account. Hypothetical choices follow this perceived duty and do not violate it for the sake of better consequences. The discrepancy between duty and judged consequences does not seem to result from self-interest alone. When asked for reasons, many subjects felt an obligation to help their fellow citizens before others, and they also thought that they owed something to their nation, in return for what it did for them. The obligation to help fellow citizens was the strongest predictor of perceived duty. In an experiment with Israeli and Palestinian students, group membership affected both perceived overall consequences and duty, although subjects still showed a greater group duty than predicted by perceived consequences.
Keywords: duty, parochialism, nationalism, biases, utilitarianism
JEL Classification: D74, D63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation