Focus on the Target: The Role of Attentional Focus in Decisions about War

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Description: Legislative bodies have very important roles and understanding the psychology of their decision-making processes is a useful area of study. We add to this area by examining Congressional decision making when it comes to war measures and exploring where lawmakers' attention is focused when debating these issues. The present study hypothesized that legislators who support war measures focus more on other people and on the present circumstances. Speeches were obtained pertaining to the decisions for the U.S. to take military action in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya. While we found mixed results depending on the circumstances of a specific conflict, we demonstrate how automated language analysis can be combined with voting records to better understand behavioral action, such as legislative decision.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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