Year of Publication

2015

Season of Publication

Spring

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)

Department

Psychology

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Dan Richard

Second Advisor

Dr. Debbie Wang

Department Chair

Dr. Michael Toglia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick

Abstract

Implicit knowledge influences decision-making in a variety of areas, including conflict resolution and decisions about war. Individuals may unknowingly apply implicit knowledge from past experiences to present experiences, even if that information leads to less accurate decisions in the present experience. The current study is an exploration into how implicit knowledge of past international conflicts and fear of terrorism affects recommendations for military conflict resolution in current international conflicts. Priming is one way to make implicit knowledge salient, and participants in this study were implicitly primed to think of either the Iraq War, World War II, or no war in particular before reading a description of the Syrian Civil War. Participants reported their recommendations for resolving the conflict in Syria, including to what extent they would recommend that the United States intervene using military force. Fear of Terrorism, which is theoretically linked to knowledge and attitudes about Middle Eastern conflicts, was also measured. Results showed that support for U.S. military intervention in Syria was significantly impacted by Fear of Terrorism when participants had been primed to think of the Iraq War. This effect was such that, when primed to think of the Iraq War, higher Fear of Terrorism predicted greater support for military intervention in Syria. This effect did not occur in the other priming conditions. This study extends current research by examining how implicit priming of past conflicts and fear of terrorism interact to influence Americans’ decision-making in support for military intervention in Middle Eastern conflicts.

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