Statements for Peace? : How Statements by Leaders Affect Domestic Support for Negotiations
Abstract: This study explores the effect of statements by leaders on domestic support for negotiations. It distinguishes between two types of statements: those that humanise the out-group, and those that apologise for past wrongdoings. The theoretical argument is threefold. First, it is proposed that humanising statements can counter the narratives that delegitimise negotiations with outgroups and, thereby, increase support for negotiations. Second, it is argued that apologies by leaders activate aversion to collective guilt and therefore diminish support for negotiations. Third, it is theorised that the effect of statements is conditioned by individual-level adherence to beliefs that justify continued conflict (‘conflict-supporting narratives’). Specifically, the positive effect of humanising statements is expected to be driven primarily by low adherers of conflict-supporting narratives, whereas the negative effect of apologies is driven primarily by high adherers of conflict-supporting narratives. The findings, based on an online survey experiment conducted in the United States, support the hypothesis that apologies by in-group leaders decrease domestic support for negotiations and that this effect is driven by high adherers of conflict-supporting narratives. In contrast, humanising statements are found to have a null influence on support for negotiations, regardless of the level of adherence to conflict-supporting narratives.
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