Authors’ notes: Earlier versions of this paper benefited from presentations at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Toronto and the Research in International Politics workshop at The Ohio State University. We thank the ISQ editorial team and anonymous reviewers, as well as Ben Jones, Jon Krosnick, Jon Mercer, Irfan Nooruddin, and Brian Rathbun for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript, and Emily Lynch and Eleonora Mattiacci for their research assistance. Kertzer acknowledges the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Replication data and Appendices are available online at http://polisci.osu.edu/grads/kertzer.1/.
Folk Realism: Testing the Microfoundations of Realism in Ordinary Citizens1
Article first published online: 18 JAN 2012
© 2012 International Studies Association
International Studies Quarterly
Volume 56, Issue 2, pages 245–258, June 2012
How to Cite
Kertzer, . J. D. and McGraw, . K. M. (2012), Folk Realism: Testing the Microfoundations of Realism in Ordinary Citizens. International Studies Quarterly, 56: 245–258. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00715.x
- Issue published online: 8 JUN 2012
- Article first published online: 18 JAN 2012
Kertzer, Joshua D. and Kathleen M. McGraw. (2012) Folk Realism: Testing the Microfoundations of Realism in Ordinary Citizens. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00715.x © 2012 International Studies Association
International Relations scholars have long debated whether the American public is allergic to realism, which raises the question of how they would “contract” it in the first place. We argue that realism isn’t just an IR paradigm, but a belief system, whose relationship with other ideological systems in public opinion has rarely been fully examined. Operationalizing this disposition in ordinary citizens as “folk realism,” we investigate its relationship with a variety of personality traits, foreign policy orientations, and political knowledge. We then present the results of a laboratory experiment probing psychological microfoundations for realist theory, manipulating the amount of information subjects have about a foreign policy conflict to determine whether uncertainty leads individuals to adopt more realist views, and whether realists and idealists respond to uncertainty and fear differently. We find that many of realism’s causal mechanisms are conditional on whether subjects already hold realist views, and suggest that emotions like fear may play a larger role in realist theory than many realists have assumed.