Lyall et al on Support for Combatants in Afghanistan Wins Best Paper at MPSA 2012

A paper by ISPS Faculty Fellow Jason Lyall (with Graeme Blair and Kosuke Imai of Princeton University), “Explaining Support for Combatants during Wartime: A Survey Experiment in Afghanistan,” won the Pi Sigma Alpha Award by the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) for best paper delivered at the 2012 annual meeting.

The paper is currently under review at a scholarly journal (a pre-print version of the paper is available here).

Abstract: How are civilian attitudes toward combatants affected by wartime victimization? Are these effects conditional on which combatant inflicted the harm? We investigate the determinants of wartime civilian attitudes towards combatants using a survey experiment across 204 villages in five Pashtun-dominated provinces of Afghanistan — the heart of the Taliban insurgency. We use endorsement experiments to indirectly elicit truthful answers to sensitive questions about support for different combatants. We demonstrate that civilian attitudes are asymmetric in nature. Harm inflicted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is met with reduced support for ISAF and increased support for the Taliban, but Taliban-inflicted harm does not translate into greater ISAF support. We combine a multistage sampling design with hierarchical modeling to estimate ISAF and Taliban support at the individual, village, and district levels, permitting a more fine-grained analysis of wartime attitudes than previously possible.