Weighing the prospects of war

Pratto, F.; Glasford, D. E. and Hegarty, P. (2006). Weighing the prospects of war. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9(2) 219 - 233.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430206062078


Prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979) predictions were examined in light of ethnocentrism and intergroup conflict. An experiment conducted at the outset of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US, UK and their allies explored American and British participants' preferences for certain versus uncertain gains and losses concerning Iraqi, American, and British lives. In four conditions, participants showed the usual loss-aversion when deciding between options that only affected Iraqi lives. Six other conditions examined choices between the lives of Americans, Britons, or Iraqis. Strong ethnocentric biases rather than risk-aversion occurred. Participants preferred policies that prioritized their own nationals' and allies' lives over Iraqi lives. War-related and other attitudes corresponded to participants' decisions. The need to expand prospect theory to address intergroup relations is discussed.

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