War, Public Preferences, and Survey Experiments

In “A Preference for War,” Matthew Gottfried and Robert Trager use a survey experiment that assesses public willingness to use force to challenge some commonly used assumptions about state preferences in international crises. They show that respondents wish to reward apparent fairness in reaching bargains with opposing states, yet they also indicate a willingness to reward their own leaders’ bellicosity in response to aggressive rhetoric from those same opposing states. To the extent that public preferences dictate leader preferences in crises, these patterns could challenge the usefulness to common premises that “more is always better”, that risk preferences are constant over possible shares of disputed goods, and that the rhetoric used by other states has little impact on support for war.

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  • By Scott Wolford
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