conflict & communication online, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2005
ISSN 1618-0747




Christoph Daniel Schaefer
The effects of escalation vs. de-escalation-orientated conflict coverage on the evaluation of military measures

This paper is based on a study of the extent to which differently written reports on conflicts influence reader approval of military measures and how readers evaluate different texts. Several texts were developed for the study that described various conflicts in different ways. Three conflicts were chosen, and two texts were developed for each conflict: one supported a confrontational policy (escalation-oriented), whilst the other warned against the escalation of conflict (de-escalation-oriented). The texts were presented to the participants of this study, who were then asked to evaluate the texts and to evaluate the acceptability of various military measures. By presenting different conflicts, the study attempted to evoke different degrees of participant partiality and involvement. It was found that differences among the conflicts had little influence on the evaluations of the texts and the military measures. However, the texts themselves had a clear influence: De-escalation-oriented texts were judged to be better than escalation-oriented ones. Moreover, escalation-oriented texts produced a higher degree of acceptance of military measures than did de-escalation-oriented texts. These results illustrate the particular responsibility of journalistic reporting on conflicts. The present paper argues that the standards accepted as guides for behaviour are strongly affected by overall situations. This may explain why behaviour in highly escalated conflicts may deviate strongly from behavioural norms accepted in peacetime.



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On the author:
Christoph Daniel Schaefer is PhD-Student at the University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies. He studied Psychology and Politics at the University of Konstanz and at the University of Sussex. Topic of his Masters Thesis in Psychology: Effects of Conflict Coverage on the Acceptance of Military Measures. Current research domain: Reconciliation Work of Non-Governmental-Organisations within the area of Former Yugoslavia.

Address: Revis Barber H., Laisteridge Lane, Bradford, BD1 0NQ.