Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Think Ahead: Cost Discounting and External Validity in Foreign Policy Survey Experiments

  • R. Joseph Huddleston (a1)

Abstract

This paper considers the implications of construal level theory in the context of survey experiments probing foreign policy opinion formation. Psychology research demonstrates that people discount the long-term consequences of decisions, thinking about distal or hypothetical events more abstractly than immediate scenarios. I argue that this tendency introduces a bias into survey experiments on foreign policy opinion. Respondents reasoning about an impending military engagement are likelier to consider its costs than are those reasoning in the abstract hypothetical environment. I provide evidence of this bias by replicating a common audience costs experimental design and introducing a prompt to consider casualties. I find that priming respondents to articulate their expectations about casualties in a foreign intervention reduces support and dampens the experimental effect, thereby cutting the estimated absolute audience cost substantially. This result suggests a gap between how survey respondents approach hypothetical and real situations of military intervention.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Think Ahead: Cost Discounting and External Validity in Foreign Policy Survey Experiments
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Think Ahead: Cost Discounting and External Validity in Foreign Policy Survey Experiments
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Think Ahead: Cost Discounting and External Validity in Foreign Policy Survey Experiments
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All

I would like to thank Nicholas Weller for his tireless help, extensive brainstorming, and numerous read-throughs in developing this project. I also appreciate the helpful comments from Patrick James, Youssef Chouhoud, Tom Jamieson, and all the participants in the University of Southern California's Center for International Studies’ working paper series. I also greatly appreciate the grant provided by USC-CIS to carry out the experiment. The data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available at the Journal of Experimental Political Science Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network, at: doi: 10.7910/DVN/5KM8VO. I had no conflicts of interest in the creation of this article.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Bar-Anan, Yoav, Liberman, Nira, and Trope, Yaacov. 2006. “The Association Between Psychological Distance and Construal Level: Evidence from an Implicit Association Test.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 135 (4): 609–22. doi: http://doi.org10.1037/0096-3445.135.4.609.
Boettcher, William A. and Cobb, Michael D.. 2006. “Echoes of Vietnam? Casualty Framing and Public Perceptions of Success and Failure in Iraq.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (6): 831–54.
Chaudoin, Stephen. 2014. “Audience Features and the Strategic Timing of Trade Disputes.” International Organization 68 (04): 877911. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818314000174.
CNN. 2013. CNN | ORC Poll. (http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2013/images/05/28/syriapoll.pdf), accessed May 19, 2013.
Dafoe, Allan, Zhang, Baobao, and Caughey, Devin. 2018. “Informational Equivalence in Survey Experiments.” Political Analysis. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/pan.2018.9.
DellaVigna, Stefano and Malmendier, Ulrike. 2006. “Paying Not to Go to the Gym.” The American Economic Review 96 (3): 694719.
Eichenberg, Richard C. 2005. “Victory Has Many Friends: U.S. Public Opinion and the Use of Military Force, 1981–2005.” International Security 30 (1): 140–77.
Fearon, James D. 1994. “Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes.” American Political Science Review 88 (3): 577–92.
Flores-Macías, Gustavo A. and Kreps, Sarah E.. 2015. “Borrowing Support for War The Effect of War Finance on Public Attitudes toward Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 61 (5): 9971020. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002715600762.
Frederick, Shane, Loewenstein, George, and O'Donoghue, Ted. 2002. “Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review.” Journal of Economic Literature 40 (2): 351401.
Gabaix, Xavier, Li, Hongyi, and Laibson, David Isaac. 2005. Extreme Value Theory and the Effects of Competition on Profits. (http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/clalevrem/784828000000000656.htm). Accessed September 8, 2017.
Gartner, Scott Sigmund. 2008. “The Multiple Effects of Casualties on Public Support for War: An Experimental Approach.” The American Political Science Review 102 (1): 95106.
Gelpi, Christopher, Feaver, Peter, and Reifler, Jason Aaron. 2009. Paying the Human Costs of War: American Public Opinion and Casualties in Military Conflicts. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Geys, Benny. 2010. “Wars, Presidents, and Popularity: The Political Cost(s) of War Re-Examined.” Public Opinion Quarterly 74 (2): 357–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfq001.
Green, Leonard and Myerson, Joel. 2004. “A Discounting Framework for Choice with Delayed and Probabilistic Rewards.” Psychological Bulletin 130 (5): 769–92. doi: http://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.769.
Huddleston, R. Joseph. 2018. “Replication Data for: Think Ahead: Cost Discounting and External Validity in Foreign Policy Survey Experiments.” Harvard Dataverse, V1. doi: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/5KM8VO, UNF:6:NeJwZwmlcAA29xwvccOXLA==
Karol, David and Miguel, Edward. 2007. “The Electoral Cost of War: Iraq Casualties and the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election.” The Journal of Politics 69 (3): 633–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00564.x.
Kertzer, Joshua D. and Brutger, Ryan. 2016. “Decomposing Audience Costs: Bringing the Audience Back into Audience Cost Theory.” American Journal of Political Science 60 (1): 234–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12201.
Kriner, Douglas L. 2006. “Examining Variance in Presidential Approval: The Case of FDR in World War II.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 70 (1): 2347.
Kriner, Douglas L. and Shen, Francis X.. 2012. “How Citizens Respond to Combat Casualties: The Differential Impact of Local Casualties on Support for the War in Afghanistan.” Public Opinion Quarterly 76 (4): 761–70. doi: 10.1093/poq/nfs048.
Kriner, Douglas, Lechase, Breanna, and Zielinski, Rosella Cappella. 2015. “Self-Interest, Partisanship, and the Conditional Influence of Taxation on Support for War in the USA.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 35 (1): 4364. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0738894215611133.
Levendusky, Matthew S. and Horowitz, Michael C.. 2012. “When Backing Down Is the Right Decisions: Partisanship, New Information, and Audience Costs.” The Journal of Politics 74 (2): 323–38.
Levy, Jack S., McKoy, Michael K., Poast, Paul, and Wallace, Geoffrey P. R.. 2015. “Backing Out or Backing In? Commitment and Consistency in Audience Costs Theory.” American Journal of Political Science 59 (4): 9881001. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12197.
Liberman, Nira and Trope, Yaacov. 1998. “The Role of Feasibility and Desirability Considerations in near and Distant Future Decisions: A Test of Temporal Construal Theory.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75 (1): 518. doi: http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.75.1.5.
Murphy, James G., Vuchinich, Rudy E., and Simpson, Cathy A.. 2001. “Delayed Reward and Cost Discounting.” The Psychological Record; Heidelberg 51 (4): 571–88.
Odum, Amy L. 2011. “Delay Discounting: I'm a k, You're a K.” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 96 (3): 427–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1901/jeab.2011.96-423.
O'Donoghue, Ted and Rabin, Matthew. 1999. “Doing It Now or Later.” The American Economic Review 89 (1): 103–24.
Potter, Philip B. K. and Baum, Matthew A.. 2014. “Looking for Audience Costs in All the Wrong Places: Electoral Institutions, Media Access, and Democratic Constraint.” The Journal of Politics 76 (01): 167181. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022381613001230.
Schelling, Thomas C. 1960. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
The Economist. 2013. YouGov | Economist/YouGov Poll.(https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/dtqk62b7do/econToplines.pdf). Accessed October 22, 2018.
Tomz, Michael. 2007. “Domestic Audience Costs in International Relations: An Experimental Approach.” International Organization 61 (4): 821–40.
Trager, Robert F. and Vavreck, Lynn. 2011. “The Political Costs of Crisis Bargaining: Presidential Rhetoric and the Role of Party.” American Journal of Political Science 55 (3): 526–45.
Trope, Yaacov. 2012. “Construal Level Theory.” In Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, eds. Van Lange, Paul A. M., Kruglanski, Arie W., and Higgins, E. Tory. Los Angeles: SAGE, 118–34.
Trope, Yaacov and Liberman, Nira. 2000. “Temporal Construal and Time-Dependent Changes in Preference.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79 (6): 876–89. doi: http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.876.
Trope, Yaacov and Liberman, Nira. 2010. “Construal-Level Theory of Psychological Distance.” Psychological Review 117 (2): 440–63. doi: http://doi.org/10.1037/a0018963.
Walsh, James Igoe. 2015. “Precision Weapons, Civilian Casualties, and Support for the Use of Force.” Political Psychology 36 (5): 507–23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12175.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Experimental Political Science
  • ISSN: 2052-2630
  • EISSN: 2052-2649
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-experimental-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Huddleston supplementary material
Appendices A-E

 Word (103 KB)
103 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed