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Title Moral Codes and Wartime Calculus: Assessing Public Attitudes about Civilian Casualties
Post date 08/22/2018
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale (The authors submitted the following updated response to this field on March 22, 2019.) This study investigates two puzzles. The first puzzle is whether or not civilian harm by the U.S. military affects public support. Scholars in the “strategic public” camp point to the public’s preoccupation with winning wars (Sagan and Valentino 2017; Press et al 2013; Gelpi, Feaver and Reifler 2009; Jentleson 1992) and concern for American combatant deaths (Boettcher and Cobb 2006; Eichenberg 2005; Gartner 2008; Feaver and Gelpi 2005; Mueller 1994). From this perspective, foreign civilian harm would only affects public support for war if the public believes this harm is militarily counter-productive. In contrast, the “moral public” camp points to moral (Johns and Davies forthcoming; Chilton 2015; Walsh 2015; Larson and Savych 2006) and legal (Chilton 2015; Kreps and Wallace 2015; Kreps 2014; Wallace 2013) norms against civilian killing as determinants of public support for war. The second puzzle investigates why Black Americans have opposed U.S. wars at higher levels than White Americans. On the one hand, research suggests that the race gap may be a result of strategic beliefs. Compared to White Americans, Black Americans hold “dovish” foreign policy views consistent with their Democratic partisan leaning (Ender, Rohall and Matthews 2015). As such, Black Americans may be sensitive to civilian harm on the belief that this harm undermines U.S. military effectiveness. On the other hand, researchers have suggested that ethnocentrism and acceptance of racism help explain support for war among White Americans (Green working paper; Kam and Kinder 2007). Black Americans may be sufficiently resistant to these dispositions for moral concern for the civilian victims of U.S. wars to influence their attitudes.
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested? (The authors submitted the following updated response to this field on March 22, 2019.) Hypothesis 1 (strategic public): The intent behind war-time civilian killing does not lower public support for conflict, except on the condition that the public believes violating the norm of noncombatant immunity imposes strategic costs on the U.S. Hypothesis 2 (tribal public): The intent behind war-time civilian killing has no impact on support for the use of force. Hypothesis 3 (moral public): Public support for the use of force decreases as civilian harm shifts from accidental to foreseeable to intentional. Hypothesis 4 (race and the strategic public): Civilian harm decreases Black American support for the use of force more than White American support because the former believe civilian harm undermines military objectives. Hypothesis 5 (race and the moral public) : Civilian harm decreases Black American support for the use of force more than White American support because the former have greater moral concern for the foreign victims of U.S. wars.
C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? * (The authors submitted the following updated response to this field on March 22, 2019.) This study will use the survey experimental methodology to test these hypotheses. The survey experiment asks respondents to evaluate a hypothetical scenario in which the U.S. conducts airstrikes against a terrorist organization that kills civilians. The experiment will include six treatments. For the first three treatments, the killing of civilians from the U.S. airstrikes will be described as either intentional, foreseeable, or accidental. The following three treatments will stipulate the intent and describe the airstrikes as weakening the terrorist organization. I Respondents will be asked whether or not support the airstrikes and whether or not they believe the airstrikes were morally justified. To compare the attitudes among Black and White Americans, the study will sample on race.
C4 Country United States
C5 Scale (# of Units) 3200
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? not provided by authors
C8 IRB Number not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Amazon Turk
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors