Political Consequences of Fear During War

46 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2019

See all articles by Austin L. Wright

Austin L. Wright

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Stephen Stapleton

University of Chicago, University of Chicago, Students

Luke Condra

University of Pittsburgh

Date Written: April 26, 2018

Abstract

What are the political consequences of fear during war? Prior work on crime and conflict suggests that traumatic events may trigger strong emotional responses, which can increase political participation in a number of ways. Fear is also associated with anxiety, depression, and loss of cognitive and social functions, which may lead to political withdrawal. We present evidence of a link between past exposure to violence and heightened feelings of fear using a large-scale national survey. We find consistent evidence that fear significantly reduces political engagement. These findings provide evidence of a psychological mechanism largely absent from prior work in politics and challenges the notion that survivors of trauma are politically activated by their experiences with violence.

Keywords: civil conflict, trauma, psychology of war

Suggested Citation

Wright, Austin L. and Stapleton, Stephen and Condra, Luke, Political Consequences of Fear During War (April 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316967 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3316967

Austin L. Wright (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.austinlwright.com

Stephen Stapleton

University of Chicago, University of Chicago, Students ( email )

IL
United States

Luke Condra

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

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