Antinormative Messaging, Group Cues, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Journal of Politics 84(1): 591-596, doi: 10.1086/714924.

30 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 8 Mar 2022

See all articles by Stephen Herzog

Stephen Herzog

ETH Zürich - Center for Security Studies (CSS); Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA)

Jonathon Baron

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Rebecca Davis Gibbons

University of Southern Maine

Date Written: June 28, 2020

Abstract

What types of foreign policy cues are most likely to turn public opinion against a popular emerging norm? Since 2017, the U.S. government has sought to discredit the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its nuclear non-possession norm among the largely pro-disarmament American public. We fielded a national U.S. survey experiment (N = 1,219) to evaluate the effects of these elite cues as well as social group cues on public opinion. Our study thus offers one of the first experimental assessments of public attitudes toward nuclear disarmament. We find both negative government messages and group cues can shift attitudes. Direct exposure to official rhetoric — particularly substantive security and institutional critiques — most effectively increases opposition to the norm. Yet, we observe that all cues have little effect on respondents’ existing opposition to nuclear arms. The American population may support eventually eliminating nuclear weapons, but majority backing for immediate disarmament appears far from assured.

Keywords: nuclear weapons, survey experiment, norms, international security, international institutions

Suggested Citation

Herzog, Stephen and Baron, Jonathon and Gibbons, Rebecca Davis, Antinormative Messaging, Group Cues, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty (June 28, 2020). Journal of Politics 84(1): 591-596, doi: 10.1086/714924., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3787157 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3787157

Stephen Herzog (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich - Center for Security Studies (CSS) ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4, IFW
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) ( email )

79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jonathon Baron

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Rebecca Davis Gibbons

University of Southern Maine ( email )

P.O. Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104-9300
United States

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