Threatened by the Worst but Hoping for the Best: Unraveling the Relationship Between Threat, Hope, and Public Opinion During Conflict

Oded Adomi Leshem*, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

How does the threat from future violence shape the opinions of those mired in violent intergroup disputes? Two competing rationales seem plausible. During conflict, threat from future violence increases support for dovish policies because the destruction and suffering associated with violence make peace seem more desirable and urgent. At the same time, threat from future violence can decrease support for dovish policies because peace seems inconceivable when violence is on the rise. Indeed, existing studies on the link between threat perceptions and support for conflict-related policies yielded mixed results. We argue that, to some extent, this puzzle could be solved by (1) examining threat through its two core components, namely perceived severity of harm and perceived likelihood of harm, and (2) linking these two components of threat with the two components of hope, namely the wish to attain a goal (in our case peace) and the expectations of attaining it. These arguments were tested using original data collected among 800 Israelis and Palestinians. Results show that the part of threat stemming from perceiving future violence as severe generates support for dovish policies because it increases citizens’ wishes for peace. At the same time, the part of threat that stems from perceiving future violence as likely decreases support for the same policies due to decreased expectations that peace can be achieved. We show that the relative weight of the two components of threat determines citizens’ support for conflict-related policies. Implications for political behavior during conflict are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)761-780
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Conflict
  • Hope
  • Threat perceptions
  • Violence

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Threatened by the Worst but Hoping for the Best: Unraveling the Relationship Between Threat, Hope, and Public Opinion During Conflict'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this