Knowledge of War and the War on Knowledge: What Affects One’s Decision to Support War?

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Daniel Patten


Several scholars have referenced the US public’s lack of knowledge on foreign policy. Yet, many fewer studies have actually explored the impact of this supposed lack of awareness. This study examines the relationship between the media, knowledge held of war and military foreign policy, and attitudes towards war. Online survey data were collected from a four-year university located in a heavily militarized area. The findings suggest that having knowledge of Afghanistan and Iraq War facts negatively affected one’s decision to support war and was the strongest predictor of this decision. The media was not found to be a significant predictor impacting this knowledge when controlling for other variables. Political ideology and other related variables were found to be more influential regarding this knowledge. These findings imply that the public may be imprudently supporting war without proper exposure to the facts or without regard to reality. Future research is needed to investigate how knowledge of war is formulated.

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