Pulling the Trigger: How Threats to the Nation Increase Support for Military Action via the Generation of Hubris

Yuval Feinstein

Sociological Science, May 25, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a15

Previous studies of public opinion in the United States have reported positive associations between national hubris and support for military actions. This article argues that in addition to its stable aspect, national hubris has a contextual aspect: under perceived symbolic threats to the nation, national hubris increases and boosts support for military action. To test this argument, which is grounded in a sociological and social psychological understanding of individuals as members of collectivities who pursue a symbolic politics of status achievement and maintenance, a survey-experiment was conducted with a nationally representative sample. In the experiment, participants who were exposed to rhetoric that highlighted symbolic threats to the nation to justify an impending military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities reported higher levels of national hubris and were more likely to support the military action than either participants who were exposed to internationalist rhetoric or those in the control group.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Yuval Feinstein: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa
Email: fyuval@soc.haifa.ac.il

Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to the National Science Foundation for providing the funding for this research. The author also thanks Terece Bell, Jeremy Broekman, Philippe Duhart, Jennifer Eggerling-Boeck, Vered Kraus, Robert D. Mare, Zeynep Ozgen, David O. Sears, Andreas Wimmer, and Meir Yaish for their help and advice regarding theory, research design, and manuscript preparation. Previous versions of the article were presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association (2012), the Association for the Study of Nationalities (2012), and the Israeli Political Science Association (2013). I thank conveners and audiences for stimulating comments and challenging criticisms

  • Citation: Feinstein, Yuval. 2016. “Pulling the Trigger: How Threats to the Nation Increase Support for Military Action via the Generation of Hubris.” Sociological Science 3: 317-334.
  • Received: January 4, 2016
  • Accepted: February 8, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a15

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