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Gender and Conditional Support for Torture in the War on Terror

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2008

Donald P. Haider-Markel
University of Kansas
Andrea Vieux
University of Kansas


The events of September 11 have clearly changed the way that Americans think about politics and policy and may have changed attitudes about the treatment of America's perceived enemies. At the same time, revelations about American interrogation techniques in the war on terror have forced a national dialogue on human rights during a time of war. Americans do tend to oppose a variety of harsh interrogation techniques, but opposition appears to be conditioned by gender, partisanship, and the context in which an interrogation might take place. We explore how conditions shape attitudes on interrogation techniques in the war on terror, with a particular focus on gender and contextual framing. We analyze data from a unique 2004 national survey of American adults to test several hypotheses. Our results suggest that gender strongly shapes opposition to harsh interrogation techniques, but contextual framing also shapes opposition. Partisanship and contextual framing also mediate the influence of gender on attitudes.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2008

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