The Two Faces of Opposition to Chemical Weapons: Sincere Versus Insincere Norm-Holders

67 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021 Last revised: 14 Oct 2021

See all articles by Christopher W. Blair

Christopher W. Blair

Princeton University

Jonathan Chu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Joshua A. Schwartz

University of Pennsylvania – Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 2, 2021

Abstract

Prominent research holds that the use of weapons of mass destruction is taboo. But how strong are these norms? Investigating this question among the mass public, we argue that some citizens actually support taboo policies in private but are unwilling to express counter-normative opinions openly due to fear of social sanction. These insincere norm-holders are difficult to identify empirically because they are observationally equivalent to sincere norm-holders in direct-question surveys. To overcome this challenge, we use a list design, which allows survey respondents to indirectly express sensitive opinions. The results from three list experiments show that between 10% and 17% of Americans falsify their preferences over chemical weapons use when asked directly. Our findings advance a specific debate on the strength of weapons taboos, while our conceptualization of insincere norm-holders and methodological application have broader implications for how scholars might think about and measure norms in international politics.

Keywords: Norms, Taboos, Chemical Weapons, WMDs, List Experiments

JEL Classification: C91, F52

Suggested Citation

Blair, Christopher and Chu, Jonathan and Schwartz, Joshua, The Two Faces of Opposition to Chemical Weapons: Sincere Versus Insincere Norm-Holders (August 2, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3897555 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3897555

Christopher Blair (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Jonathan Chu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Joshua Schwartz

University of Pennsylvania – Department of Political Science ( email )

Perelman Center for Political Science & Economics
133 S 36th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://joshuaaschwartz.com

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