Unraveling American Sympathies toward Israelis and Palestinians
86 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2024
Date Written: February 5, 2024
Conflicts manifest on two fronts---on the battlefield and in global public opinion. This study explores how ordinary individuals shape their sympathies toward people involved in conflicts abroad, focusing on American public opinion about the 2023 Gaza conflict. Despite the stark divisions between Israeli and Palestinian sympathizers, the sources of such sympathies remain unclear. Using a conjoint experiment fielded on the day after Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza, we observe that Americans rely on an identity-based shortcut---majority religion---to determine their sympathies. However, this shortcut does not prevent more deliberate considerations. People pay attention to substantive aspects of the conflict and evaluate their preferred side favorably. Consequently, while sympathy per se seems rooted in universal sentiment about suffering, its expression reflects individuals' selective information processing based on their perspectives and prior considerations. This finding suggests the challenge for Israeli and Palestinian sympathizers in understanding the perspectives of the other side.
Keywords: Israel, Palestine, war, sympathy, conjoint analysis
JEL Classification: D74, H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation