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In the Shadow of Conflict: How Emotions, Threat Perceptions and Victimization Influence Foreign Policy Attitudes

  • A. Kupatadze (a1) and T. Zeitzoff (a2)

Abstract

We investigate how emotions, threat perceptions and past violence influence foreign policy attitudes via a survey experiment in Georgia. Using a stratified sample across areas with differential exposure to the conflict and the presence of internally displaced persons, we randomly assign respondents to receive emotional primes about Russian aggression in the region. We find that exposure to violence, as well as simply being primed about past Russian aggression, both increase the perceived threat from Russia, and to a lesser extent anger towards Russia. Individuals who receive the primes are more supportive of a hardline foreign policy. In contrast, we find that exposure to violence does not have a direct effect on foreign policy attitudes, but increases hardline attitudes indirectly, through increased anger and threat. Taken together our results provide evidence that reminders of past violence have different effects than direct exposure to violence on foreign policy attitudes.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: zeitzoff@american.edu

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