Spurred by Threats or Afraid of War? A Survey Experiment On Costs of Conflict in Support for Military Action
29 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 10, 2017
It is commonly assumed that perceived threats from a rival state will make individuals more likely to "rally-round-the-flag" and support military action. Previous studies have looked at how information on threats can affect public support for military action. To date, however, less attention has been paid to how information about the costs of conflict may affect the level of support. In this article, we present a survey experiment designed to evaluate how information about the likely military and economic costs of conflict influences support for military action. We provide Japanese respondents with information about relations with China, and probe how support for military action in the context of the ongoing territorial dispute changes with varying information on the military costs of conflict and its economic consequences. We find that information about trade ties and military capacity exerts a pacifying effect and strengthens opposition to military action. Consistent with our proposed mechanism, we also show that greater awareness of military costs is associated with stronger opposition to military action. Our results indicate that greater awareness of the costs of conflict affects attitudes to military action and can increase support for peaceful solutions to territorial rivalries.
Keywords: public opinion, territorial disputes, interdependence, arming, Japan, China
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