We explore the conditions under which individuals are attentive to positive and negative battlefield information when forming beliefs about a conflict’s success or failure. We use three experiments to explore the impact of visual and textual battlefield cues on individuals’ emotional states and attitudes toward the war in Afghanistan. We find that both visual and textual information convey information about failure that influences public attitudes and emotions toward war. In keeping with rational expectations theory, but contrary to widespread beliefs within the journalistic and policymaking communities, textual cues and images of battlefield failure have similar effects on emotions and attitudes. The consistency of multiple war cues, however, greatly affects peoples’ reactions. Simply put, in war the content of information matters, not its delivery style.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations