Journal Article - Journal of Politics

Antinormative Messaging, Group Cues, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty

| January 2022


What types of foreign policy cues are most likely to turn public opinion against a popular emerging norm? Since 2017, the US government has sought to discredit the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its nuclear nonpossession norm among the largely prodisarmament American public. We fielded a national US survey experiment (N=1,219) to evaluate the effects of these elite cues as well as social group cues on public opinion. Our study thus offers one of the first experimental assessments of public attitudes toward nuclear disarmament. We find that both negative government messages and group cues can shift attitudes. Direct exposure to official rhetoric—particularly substantive security and institutional critiques—most effectively increases opposition to the norm. Yet, we observe that all cues have little effect on respondents' existing opposition to nuclear arms. The American population may support eventually eliminating nuclear weapons, but majority backing for immediate disarmament appears far from assured.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Herzog, Stephen, Jonathon Baron, and Rebecca Davis Gibbons. "Antinormative Messaging, Group Cues, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty." Journal of Politics, vol. 84, no. 1 (January 2022): 591 – 596.



The Authors

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