Rationally Impatient Citizens: Modeling Public Opinion Dynamics during War

51 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014 Last revised: 26 Aug 2014

See all articles by Ali Sanaei

Ali Sanaei

Shahid Beheshti University

Date Written: August 20, 2014


A formal model of public opinion dynamics during asymmetric wars is presented. The model shows that the pattern usually observed - initial support for war that declines over time until it reaches a plateau - is expected from a rational citizenry. A number of behavioral and institutional hypotheses are derived from the model. In particular, citizens' expectation of the remaining duration of war increases as time elapses. Time itself is informative and will eventually trump other information. This hypothesis is tested using a survey experiment that verifies a substantive effect of time independent of the observed costs of war. In the model, democracies are expected to fight shorter asymmetric wars.

Keywords: Public opinion, foreign policy, formal models, war, international conflict

Suggested Citation

Sanaei, Ali, Rationally Impatient Citizens: Modeling Public Opinion Dynamics during War (August 20, 2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2452611

Ali Sanaei (Contact Author)

Shahid Beheshti University ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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