Date of Award

Fall 8-21-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Jason Reifler

Second Advisor

Aaron Rapport

Third Advisor

Peter Lindsay


Recent research has posited that retributiveness is an individual level disposition that can help us understand foreign policy preferences (e.g. Liberman 2006, Liberman 2007, Liberman in press, Stein n.d.). However, previous research is limited in two related respects. First, previous research relies on correlational data, blunting our ability to make clear causal inferences. Also, retributiveness is not made theoretically distinct from general hawkishness. In this paper, I present results from two experiments to refine our understanding of how retributiveness can affect support for use of the military. In the first experiment, I examine how retributiveness affects support for greater military commitment across a number of potential missions. In the second experiment, I examine how retributiveness interacts with different rhetorical justifications for military endeavors (e.g. punishing transgressors versus eliminating a foreign policy threat).