Political Consequences of Fear During War
46 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2019
Date Written: April 26, 2018
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
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