Politics, Revenge, and Society

This topic submitted by Nancy, Regan,Geoff, Zach (nwiegand01@yahoo.com) at 3:04 pm on 12/14/01. Additions were last made on Tuesday, January 28, 2003. Section: Myers


Miami University is criticized as having a homogeneous, highly conservative student population. However, as students living on Western Campus, we have noticed that a majority of Western students appear to have liberal views. The two different political orientations, conservative and liberal, seem to have many different stances on societal issues. We have observed that after the September 11th terrorist attacks the reactions of Western students and main campus students were quite different; in addition, the students' ideas for retaliation were very dissimilar. This led us to believe that conservatives and liberals have different ideas about the terrorist attacks and about the United States' role in responding to the attacks. We decided that there must be a correlation between students' political affiliation and their desires for revenge on the terrorists, the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists. Therefore, our hypothesis is as follows: students with conservative political views are more inclined to want revenge for the September 11th attacks than students with liberal views. In addition, the degree of students' political stance within the liberal and conservative orientations will directly correlate with their desire for revenge and the level to which they think it should be exacted.


The purpose of this lab is to determine if people with a conservative political orientation are more prone to want revenge for the September 11th terrorist attacks than people with a liberal political orientation. In addition, the lab explores if the degree of political orientation, or extremity of left-winged or right-winged stance, influences the degree to which a person wants revenge to be carried out. After the surveys were completed and the data collected, our group decided to investigate two more aspects. The lab explores the correlation between political affiliation and revenge for males vs. females, and main campus vs. western campus.
The September 11th terrorist attacks had a tremendous influence on our nation. Even here at Miami University, students felt the impact of the attacks on their everyday lives. Students became actively involved in aiding the victims (i.e. blood drives, donations) and in helping others to cope with the sadness caused by the attacks. Our group realized that the September 11th attacks were a very important, history changing event. Therefore, we wanted our student generated lab to incorporate this tragic event that affected so many people. As mentioned above, our group noticed that a majority of Western students had liberal views. This contrasts with the rest of Miami's main campus student population, which is widely conservative. In addition, we observed that many Western students and main campus students reacted differently to the attacks. This observation led us to believe that there is a direct correlation between political orientation and longing for retaliation for the attacks.
We feel that students on the extreme left-winged liberal side will be inclined to not want revenge at all. In fact, they will have an apologetic tone to the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists. On the opposite side, we feel that the extreme right-winged conservatives will think that immediate and swift revenge must be sought for the terrorist attacks. However, we feel the largest percentage of students will fall in the mid-range. The students who lean towards the liberal side will feel that little retaliation should be carried out, and responsible negotiations should take place. Students leaning towards the conservative side will feel that very aggressive seek and destroy missions should be carried out to eliminate the terrorist groups.
Over the past month our group has gathered information about liberals, conservatives, and their respective ideologies. Drawing upon our research, we have logically formed our hypothesis. The conservative and liberal ideologies that we studied in our research helped us to decide how each political orientation would view retaliation for the September 11th attacks. To demonstrate this idea, we expounded upon each orientations' views on tax reform.
The conservative viewpoint on tax reform demonstrates their philosophy that everyone is held accountable for his/her own actions. Conservatives believe that all income levels should receive the same tax cut percentage; lower income levels should not be given a larger percentage cut, nor benefit from the higher class' earnings. This ideology leads us to believe that conservatives will feel the United States did not deserve the terrorist attacks of September 11th. They will believe that the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists deserve to be punished for the attacks, and aggressive retaliation should be carried out.
Likewise, the liberal stance on tax reform reveals their philosophy that individuals are not always accountable for the circumstances they are in. Liberals believe in income redistribution. They think that tax cuts should be given to lower income levels, and higher income levels should help support the lower levels. Each individual is not necessarily held accountable for themselves. Therefore, liberals will justify the attacks on the United States by blaming the U.S. for offensive actions to others. They will feel that the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists were violated in some way, and the United States, in a sense, deserved the terrorist attacks.
Through this experiment we hope to accomplish a better understanding of how political orientation influences one's stance on societal issues, in this case the terrorist attacks. By conducting this lab we will also become more efficient at interpreting data and discovering correlations between two sets of data.

Relevance of our Research Question
In conducting research we have not found any studies that relate political association to the degree of retaliation desired for the September 11th terrorist attacks. Many quizzes have been developed to test if a person is liberal or conservative, and we used questions from these to help form our survey.
The results of our lab will show how students at Miami feel about retaliation. If the same survey was given to a random sample across the nation, the mood of the American people could be determined. From President Bush's point of view, he must make sure that the American people are behind his actions. He needs to know where the mood of the people lies; do they want the terrorists to be eliminated, do they want negotiations with the terrorist, or do they want to apologize to the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists. The American people must support the war effort in order for it to be successful. President Bush would hope that the majority of the American people want seek and destroy missions to eradicate the terrorists. Also, the results of the lab applied on a national scale would help President Bush decide how to address the American public. Depending on the results, his message would vary. For example, he must get the liberals who may not want revenge to understand why retaliation is necessary.
Materials and Methods
Our experimental design is sampling done by randomly distributing 30 questionnaires to students on Western Campus and 30 questionnaires to students on Main Campus. Fifteen questionnaires will be given to males, and 15 will be given to females on each campus.
Each questionnaire has two parts. The first part is a series of questions to assess if a person is liberal or conservative. The second part is a series of questions to determine the degree of retaliation that the person desires. Each question's answer has a corresponding point value assigned to it. On the political orientation questions, a score of 1 means that the person is very liberal, 2 is moderately liberal, 3 is neutral, 4 is moderately conservative, and 5 is very conservative. On the desire for revenge questions, a score of 1 means that the person is very passive, 2 means moderately passive, 3 means neutral, 4 means moderately hawkish, and 5 means very hawkish.
After all 60 surveys have been completed, we will do the following to compile and interpret our results:
" Each question on all the questionnaires will be scored using the assigned point value scale.
" The score of the political affiliation section and the score of the retaliation section will be totaled and then we will calculate the average for each section.
" These average scores will be placed on the Scoring Evaluation Sheets (see example enclosed).
" By using the Scoring Evaluation Sheets, the correlation as expected by our hypothesis will be evaluated.
" A discussion of the correlation will follow.

After we score all the questionnaires, we will take the data to the Peer Science Center for assistance. Also our group will use StatView to obtain charts, graphs, and a P-value.
By sampling a total of 60 people our results will be statistically sound. To ensure unbiased results, the survey was formed in a neutral way. We did not try to influence any students' responses by wording questions in a particular way.
The materials needed for our lab are as follows: questionnaires, 60 participants to fill out the survey, and Scoring Evaluation Sheets.
During the week of October 28th we will present our lab to the class. Our goal in the presentation is to get the class to understand why we conducted our experiment, what our hypothesis is, what we expect the results to be, and our interpretation of the results. Each person in the class will be given a questionnaire to complete. Then the questionnaires will be scored and evaluated in the same way as described in the Methods section above. Finally, our group will host a discussion with the class. We will have them to interpret their results: Is their a significant difference between what was expected for each question, and the actual results? What accounts for the difference or lack of difference?
During the week of November 4th we collected our data by distributing the questionnaires to students at the architecture studio and at the Shriver Center. We focused on surveying students who were sitting down and had plenty of time to complete the questionnaire.
Beginning November 15th, we began to compile the data and formulate graphs and charts using StatView, with the help of the Peer Science Center.

Literature Cited
"The Eye of the Spider" website contains valuable facts about liberalist philosophies. The site answers many questions regarding the political profile of liberal minded individuals. From this site, we could organize a standard process to determine what is, and what is not a liberal. Being able to identify a liberal is necessary to categorize the students being surveyed.

This site gave our group an overview of liberal beliefs. The site answers many questions regarding the political profile of liberals. This site also helped us in being able to identify a liberal, which is necessary to categorize the students.

Conservative FAQ website is similar to "The Eye of the Spider" website, in terms of its use for the lab. Conservative FAQ is a forum in which the political platform and ideology of the conservative individual is displayed. By identifying the characteristics of a conservative, we are better prepared to categorize the students taking the survey. Also we were able to use this information to decide how a conservative would view retaliation.

This site provided a definition of the conservative political platform and ideology. It also helped us to decide how conservatives would view retaliation.

Political Survey
"Political Quiz: Are you a liberal or conservative" was taken from this web site and selected portions of it were included in our political survey. The website gives this quiz for people to determine their association between political parties and ideas.

Political Survey
Our group took questions from this site to help us form our questionnaire.

Social Groups
Vogler, Carolyn. "Social Identity and Emotion: the Meeting of Psychoanalysis and Sociology." The Sociological Review v.48 Feb. 2002. P.19-42
Vogler attempts to organize a way in which society can better understand social identities. She combines the two areas of sociology and psychoanalysis to explain the social formation of individuals. She argues that social identification has a largely emotional basis. It is not simply an ideology that draws individuals to associate with each other, she argues. It is actually an inter-relationship between the group and strong emotions such as love, hate, shame, and anger. Vogler concluded that the association with a specific group can unconsciously raise feelings within an individual. As applied to our study, belonging to the conservative or liberal party (collectively) will cause an individual to have feelings that are normally associated with that group.

Social Groups
Zinni, Frank P., "The Structure of Attitudes Toward Groups: A comparison of experts and novices," Political Research Quarterly. v.50 September 1997. p.597-626.
Zinni questions the force that can transform an entire group's attitudes and ideologies. He explains, "Groups are important symbols that structure political reasoning." It is with Zinni's study that we can better explain and compare the two political groups and emotional relevance.

Crawford, Neta C., "The Passion of World Politics: Propositions on Emotion and Emotional Relationships," International Security v.24 Spring 2000 p.116-1156
Crawford argues that emotion plays a significant role in world politics. She believes that emotions have the power to drive groups and nations. This relates to our study because we are showing that political affiliation and desire for retaliation are correlated.


Please complete the following questionnaire. You will not be asked to put your name on it. Please take the time to thoughtfully complete each question.

Do you live on Western or Main Campus? _____________________________

Should you be allowed to carry a concealed handgun to protect yourself?

Yes No

If you see a child watching the wedding of two homosexuals on television, would you change the channel?
Yes No

Do you approve of the three strikes and you are out policy, whereby anyone convicted of three felonies would be sent to prison for life?

Yes No

Should the minimum wage be raised?

Yes No

Should high schools distribute condoms to students?

Yes No

Gays and lesbians should be able to marry or be treated as married under law.

Yes No

The federal government should include funds to make abortion services part of any standard benefits package in health care reform.

Yes No

Criminals are not responsible for crime, society is.

Yes No

Which would curb violent crime the most? (select one)
O More strict controls on the sale of guns
O Mandatory sentences for those who use guns in the commission of a crime

In the long run, do you think crime can be reduced more by building more prisons or by providing more financial assistance to rebuilding inner cities? (select one)
O Build prisons
O Rebuild cities

Which would you prefer? (select one)
O The present tax system
O Simplified version of present tax system
O Some variation of flat income tax

Rate each on a scale of 1-5. (1 meaning to make significant use of and 5 meaning to outlaw the use of)
Affirmative action based on race: ____
Affirmative action based on sex: ____
Death penalty: ____
Abortion: ____

Pick the two points you most strongly agree with:
O Continue with present policy
O Increase Drug Law Enforcement and spending
O Increase drug restrictions to include alcohol and tobacco
O Legalize some drugs, with controls over usage (as with alcohol)
O Legalize all drugs, with controls over use
O Legalize some drugs, with minimal controls
O Legalize all drugs, with minimal controls

Rate each on scale of 1-5. (1 meaning no legal restrictions and 5 meaning to totally outlaw)
Marijuana possession for farming or personal use____
Alcohol use____
Tobacco use ____
Pornography ____

Circle the number closest to your view:
1. Citizens should be allowed to own guns, with no restrictions
2. Keep present laws, but not further restrictions
3. Protect the right to bear arms, but add more restrictions to handguns
4. Make sure all firearms are registered
5. Outlaw all private ownership of firearms

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