To die for

Kevin Lewis

October 04, 2017

The Road to Extremism: Field and Experimental Evidence That Significance Loss-Induced Need for Closure Fosters Radicalization
David Webber et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


The present studies examined the hypothesis that loss of personal significance fuels extremism via the need for cognitive closure. Situations of significance loss — those that make one feel ashamed, humiliated, or demeaned — are inconsistent with the desire for a positive self-image, and instill a sense of uncertainty about the self. Consequently, individuals become motivated to seek certainty and closure that affords the restoration of personal significance. Extremist ideologies should thus increase in appeal, because they promise clear-cut strategies for such restoration. These notions were supported in a series of studies ranging from field surveys of political extremists imprisoned in the Philippines (Study 1) and Sri Lanka (Study 2) to experiments conducted with American samples (Studies 3–4). Implications of these findings are considered for the psychology of extremism, and for approaches to counterradicalization, and deradicalization.

Polity or Policy? Explaining Ordinary Muslims’ Support for Suicide Bombing
Christine Fair & Junjie Chen
Georgetown University Working Paper, August 2017


Public opinion research shows there is considerable, albeit varied, support for terrorist tactics among the world’s varied Muslim populations. Data from the Pew Research Center demonstrated that in 2014, 47 and 46 percent of Bangladeshis and Lebanese respondents, respectively, approved of suicide bombing, compared to only 5 and 3 percent of Tunisian and Pakistani respondents (Pew 2014). Scholars have sought to identify respondent-level determinants of support for suicide bombings (and other forms of political violence) perpetrated by Islamist militant groups by using a variety of country-specific and multi-national survey samples as well as novel survey techniques (reviewed in Bullock, Imai and Shapiro 2011). None of the extant literature has focused on aspects of the polity in which these Muslims respondents live, namely whether or not the person lives in a Muslim-majority country and/or whether that person lives in a country which has adopted Islam as the state’s formal religion. We posit that these two considerations are likely important in explaining why some Muslims support suicide bombing while others do not. To test the salience of these variables, we employ 2011-2-12 data from Pew Research Center’s World’s Muslim Survey, to model support for suicide bombing using Ordinary Least Squares regression. We find that the share of Muslims in the state’s population is generally negatively associated with the support of terrorist attacks while the codification of Islam as a state religion positively correlates with support for suicide bombing.

Source Cues or Policy Considerations: What Influences Foreign Public Opinion?
Alexander Agadjanian & Yusaku Horiuchi
Dartmouth College Working Paper, September 2017


The U.S. President Donald Trump has frequently made foreign countries central to his political messages, often conveying animosity. But do his messages sway foreign public opinion? Do foreign citizens react more to the speaker of the messages -- namely, Trump himself -- or the content of the messages? To investigate these questions, we fielded a preregistered survey experiment in Japan, in which respondents were exposed to varying policy messages. The results suggest that while the source cue (attribution to Trump) causes negative perceptions of the U.S., the policy content (cooperative vs. uncooperative) has the strongest effect in shaping opinion of the U.S. Furthermore, only when the U.S. policy approach is uncooperative does the Trump attribution have a statistically discernible effect. These findings imply greater use of policy considerations over source cues when foreign citizens shape their attitudes toward the U.S. They also suggest that Trump has not irreparably damaged the U.S. image abroad.

Reform of the United Nations Security Council: Equity and Efficiency
Matthew Gould & Matthew Rablen
Public Choice, forthcoming


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is critical to global peace and security, yet more than 20 years of negotiations over its reform have proved fruitless. We use recent advances in the theory of a priori voting power to present a formal quantitative appraisal of the implications for democratic equity and efficiency of the “structural reforms” contained within 11 current reform proposals, as well as the separate effect of expansion of the UNSC membership. Only one reform proposal — a weakening of the veto power for Permanent Members by requiring two negative votes for a veto to be effective — robustly dominates the status quo against our measures of equity and efficiency. Several proposed structural reforms may actually worsen the issues they ostensibly claim to resolve.

Revenge in US Public Support for War against Iraq
Peter Liberman & Linda Skitka
Public Opinion Quarterly, Fall 2017, Pages 636–660


To better understand how desires to avenge the September 11 terror attacks affected US public support for the 2003 Iraq War, we integrate data from two uncoordinated surveys — one measuring revenge motivations and the other beliefs about Iraqi complicity — completed by overlapping samples drawn from the same online panel. Citizens who mistakenly blamed Iraq for 9/11 were more likely to say that going to war would satisfy their desires for revenge, which in turn predicted greater war support, controlling for political orientations and the perceived security incentives and costs of war. But a substantial proportion of those who said Iraq was not involved in 9/11 also expected war to satisfy desires for revenge, suggesting that a revenge “spillover” effect also contributed to war support. These findings help explain how President George W. Bush was able to bring the nation to war against Iraq, testify to the importance of emotion and moral motivation in public opinion, and demonstrate the utility of integrating data from independent online panel surveys.

Learning and forgetting in the jet fighter aircraft industry
Anelí Bongers
PLoS ONE, September 2017


A recent strategy carried out by the aircraft industry to reduce the total cost of the new generation fighters has consisted in the development of a single airframe with different technical and operational specifications. This strategy has been designed to reduce costs in the Research, Design and Development phase with the ultimate objective of reducing the final unit price per aircraft. This is the case of the F-35 Lightning II, where three versions, with significant differences among them, are produced simultaneously based on a single airframe. Whereas this strategy seems to be useful to cut down pre-production sunk costs, their effects on production costs remain to be studied. This paper shows that this strategy can imply larger costs in the production phase by reducing learning acquisition and hence, the total effect on the final unit price of the aircraft is indeterminate. Learning curves are estimated based on the flyaway cost for the latest three fighter aircraft models: The A/F-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-22A Raptor, and the F-35A Lightning II. We find that learning rates for the F-35A are significantly lower (an estimated learning rate of around 9%) than for the other two models (around 14%).

Civilian Casualties and Public Support for Military Action: Experimental Evidence
Robert Johns & Graeme Davies
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming


In contrast to the expansive literature on military casualties and support for war, we know very little about public reactions to foreign civilian casualties. This article, based on representative sample surveys in the United States and Britain, reports four survey experiments weaving information about civilian casualties into vignettes about Western military action. These produce consistent evidence of civilian casualty aversion: where death tolls were higher, support for force was invariably and significantly lower. Casualty effects were moderate in size but robust across our two cases and across different scenarios. They were also strikingly resistant to moderation by other factors manipulated in the experiments, such as the framing of casualties or their religious affiliation. The importance of numbers over even strongly humanizing frames points toward a utilitarian rather than a social psychological model of casualty aversion. Either way, civilian casualties deserve a more prominent place in the literature on public support for war.

Mergeable nervous systems for robots
Nithin Mathews et al.
Nature Communications, September 2017


Robots have the potential to display a higher degree of lifetime morphological adaptation than natural organisms. By adopting a modular approach, robots with different capabilities, shapes, and sizes could, in theory, construct and reconfigure themselves as required. However, current modular robots have only been able to display a limited range of hardwired behaviors because they rely solely on distributed control. Here, we present robots whose bodies and control systems can merge to form entirely new robots that retain full sensorimotor control. Our control paradigm enables robots to exhibit properties that go beyond those of any existing machine or of any biological organism: the robots we present can merge to form larger bodies with a single centralized controller, split into separate bodies with independent controllers, and self-heal by removing or replacing malfunctioning body parts. This work takes us closer to robots that can autonomously change their size, form and function.

More Effective Defense Capabilities and Pareto-Improving Resource Transfers: Conflict on the Korean Peninsula
Suk Jae Noh
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


Analyzing the resource allocation between productive and appropriative activities in a conflict between prey and predator, this paper demonstrates the possibility of Pareto-improving economic assistance from South Korea to North Korea, even when augmented resources are used by North Korea to build up more offensive weapons, if resource transfer is coupled with the enhanced security position of South Korea. Some combinations of resource transfer (carrot) and increased effectiveness of defense (stick) increase production efficiency by decreasing the total amount of appropriative activities in a conflict. These combinations of stick and carrot can in some cases change the behavior of North Korea from that of a pure predator to that of a part-time predator. These results shed some light on policy debates in South Korea's dealings with North Korea.

The Unforeseen Consequences of Extended Deterrence: Moral Hazard in a Nuclear Client State
Neil Narang & Rupal Mehta
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming


Do “nuclear umbrellas” create a moral hazard that can increase the risk of war? In this article, we investigate whether situations of extended deterrence in which a nuclear patron makes a defensive commitment to a nonnuclear client state can inadvertently increase the likelihood that a client will initiate a crisis with another state. Using data on the crisis behavior of states from 1950 to 2000, we estimate the impact of a nuclear umbrella on various crisis outcomes, including the initiation and escalation of militarized conflict. Interestingly, we find no evidence that such commitments increase the risk of war or even two-sided violence at lower levels. However, consistent with both the moral hazard logic and bargaining theories of war, we show that this appears to be because potential target states offer increased policy concessions to client states to avoid costly fighting. Thus, the link between nuclear umbrellas and moral hazard appears to be real, but it is reflected in the division of benefits rather than a greater likelihood of war. The results have important policy implications as the US contemplates extending its nuclear umbrella.

Persuasion and Predation: The Effects of U.S. Military Aid and International Development Aid on Civilian Killings
Amira Jadoon
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, forthcoming


Powerful states frequently employ foreign aid to pursue international security objectives. Yet aid's effectiveness will be undermined if it exacerbates the effects of conflict on civilians within recipient states. This article investigates how international development aid and U.S. military aid influence recipient governments' incentives and ability to target civilians. U.S. military aid has a persuasion effect on state actors, which decreases a recipient state's incentives and necessity to target civilians. Development aid flows, however, trigger a predation effect in some environments, exacerbating civilian targeting. An analysis of aid flows in 135 countries on civilian killings between 1989–2011 provides support for both the persuasion and predation effects associated with aid.

Intrinsic Motivation and Performance: Jewish-American Soldiers in World War II
Caio Waisman
Stanford Working Paper, June 2017


This paper assesses the potential influence of intrinsic motivation on individuals’ performance in the context of Jewish-American soldiers in World War II. In particular, it analyzes whether these soldiers performed differently when combating Germans as opposed to Japanese. Using medals, length of service, and medals per length of service as measures of performance and exploring a difference-in-differences empirical strategy, it finds that Jewish soldiers on average would have received fewer medals had they fought in Europe instead of the Pacific. This effect is driven by the length of service, as Jewish soldiers in Europe on average would have perished three months sooner than the ones in the Pacific. As a consequence, there is no differential effect on the number of medals received by month of service. These findings suggest that Jewish-American soldiers could have been excessively incentivized, which led them to more reckless behavior in combat and an earlier death.

Winning hearts & minds (!): The dilemma of foreign aid in anti-Americanism
Efe Tokdemir
Journal of Peace Research, forthcoming


Foreign aid is a policy tool implemented with the purpose of fostering both hard and soft power abroad. Yet, previous research has not probed the effects of US foreign aid on public attitudes toward the US in the recipient countries. In this article, I argue that US foreign aid may actually feed anti-Americanism: aid indirectly creates winners and losers in the recipient countries, such that politically discontented people may blame the US for the survival of the prevailing regime. Drawing on Pew Research for Global Attitudes and on USAID Greenbook datasets, I focus on determining both the conditions under which foreign aid exacerbates anti-Americanism and the type of aid most likely to do this. The findings reveal that political losers of the recipient countries are more likely to express negative attitudes toward the USA as the amount of US aid increases, whereas political winners enjoy the results of US aid and view the USA positively accordingly. Moreover, the effect of US aid on attitudes toward the USA is also conditional on the regime type. While US aid increases the likelihood of anti-American attitudes among the losers in non-democratic countries, it decreases the likelihood of anti-Americanism among the losers in democratic ones. This article has important implications for policy in terms of determining how and to whom to provide aid in the context of the possible ramifications of providing aid at the individual level.

Online Surveillance’s Effect on Support for Other Extraordinary Measures to Prevent Terrorism
Elizabeth Stoycheff et al.
Mass Communication and Society, forthcoming


The U.S. National Security Agency argues that online mass surveillance has played a pivotal role in preventing acts of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11. But journalists and academics have decried the practice, arguing that the implementation of such extraordinary provisions may lead to a slippery slope. As the first study to investigate empirically the relationship between online surveillance and support for other extraordinary measures to prevent terrorism, we find that perceptions of government monitoring lead to increased support for hawkish foreign policy through value-conflict associations in memory that prompt a suppression of others’ online and offline civil liberties, including rights to free speech and a fair trial. Implications for the privacy–security debate are discussed.

The Political Legacy of Violence: The Long-Term Impact of Stalin’s Repression in Ukraine
Arturas Rozenas, Sebastian Schutte & Yuri Zhukov
Journal of Politics, October 2017, Pages 1147-1161


Political scientists have long been interested in how indiscriminate violence affects the behavior of its victims, yet most research has focused on short-term military consequences rather than long-term political effects. We argue that large-scale violence can have an intergenerational impact on political preferences. Communities more exposed to indiscriminate violence in the past will — in the future — oppose political forces they associate with the perpetrators of that violence. We document evidence for this claim with archival data on Soviet state violence in western Ukraine, where Stalin’s security services suppressed a nationalist insurgency by deporting over 250,000 people to Siberia. Using two causal identification strategies, we show that communities subjected to a greater intensity of deportation in the 1940s are now significantly less likely to vote for “pro-Russian” parties. These findings show that indiscriminate violence systematically reduces long-term political support for the perpetrator.

Strategy and Two-Level Games: U.S. Domestic Politics and the Road to a Separate Peace, 1977–1978
Galen Jackson
Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2017, Pages 160-195


How and to what extent do domestic political considerations influence U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East? This article addresses that question by drawing on declassified records that enable scholars to reevaluate the Carter administration's search for an Arab-Israeli settlement. Politics at home greatly affected U.S. policy. Moreover, the way such factors affected Carter's Middle East diplomacy was largely a function of the type of domestic political strategy the president chose to rely on. Had Carter and his advisers been more skilled as political operatives, the outcome of the peace negotiations might have been fundamentally different, especially on the issue of Israeli settlements policy. Thus, this article highlights the crucial importance of playing the “two-level game” for effective statecraft, a concept that has not been given adequate attention in the scholarly literature on the subject.

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