The Myth that War is Intrinsic to Human Nature Discourages Action for Peace by Young People
III. Results Page 3

Title Page

I. Introduction
Page 1

II. Methods
Page 2

III. Results
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IV. Discussion
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V. Acknow-
ledgements and References

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Table I. Factors in Peace Activity
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Table II. Activity Survey
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Table III. Correlations
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Table IV. Partialed Correlations
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Table V. Three Studies
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Table VI. The Structure of Peace Activity
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All of the factors measured in the study were directly or indirectly related to a significant extent to future peace activity (Table VI). Anger at war-makers, belief about human nature, attitude to peace activity, friend's norm on peace activity, and past level of peace activity were all correlated significantly and positively with future peace activity, even after they were partialed for the other factors (Table IV). School and family normative attitudes on peace activity were not correlated after partialing with future activity, but they were correlated with the other factors in such a way as to indicate that they have indirect effects on peace activity. Of special interest are the factors, belief about human nature and anger at war-makers.

As has been found in previous studies, a substantial portion of the students surveyed in this study believe that war is intrinsic to human nature. 40% of the students answered "very much" or "somewhat" to the question "Do you believe that war is intrinsic to human nature?" The proportion was higher in the students from the prestigious liberal arts college (44%). which is the same proportion as was obtained in a pilot study at the same college one year previously (Table V). It is similar to the proportion found by Wahlstrom in her 1984 study in Finland (52%). Similar proportions answered that there is a war instinct (40%) and that wars are inevitable because human beings are naturally aggressive (33%).

As predicted, beliefs about human nature and war proved to be significant correlates of peace activity. After partialing, the correlation of belief score with past activity for peace was .178 (p = .026) and the correlation with future activity for peace was .184 (p = .028). In other words, if students said they do not believe in the pessimistic view that war is intrinsic to human nature, they are significantly more likely to have engaged previously in peace-related activity and to engage during the following month in peace-related activity.

Anger at those who are responsible for the nuclear arms race proved to be a significant predictor of future peace activity. After partialing, it correlated .167 with future peace activity (p=.041). Although anger was also correlated with past peace activity. this correlation was no longer significant after it was partialed for the relation with other factors with which anger was correlated, especially belief that war is not intrinsic to human nature and friends' normative attitude on peace activity.

Belief about human nature may have both direct and indirect links with future peace activity. The direct link has already been indicated: it is reflected by the significant partialed correlation of belief with future peace activity. The indirect link is indicated by two sets of correlations: (1) the significant partialed correlation of belief and attitude (r = .196, p = .016) and (2) the significant partialed correlation of attitude and future activity (r = .351, p < .001). This may reflect the following causal chain: (1) belief that wars are not caused by intrinsic, biological instincts enables (2) the development of an attitude that something can be done to prevent wars, which in turn (3) facilitates decisions to take part in activity for peace.

Since belief is not at all correlated with the normative attitudes about peace activity held by the family and friends it would appear that beliefs about human nature develop independently from these other normative influences. As for school normative attitude on peace activity, there is a significant negative correlation with beliefs about human nature (r = .213, p =.010 after partialing). In other words, the more a student's school is perceived as supporting peace activity, the more likely the student will believe in the myth that war is intrinsic to human nature which has a negative effect on peace activity. Students in community colleges where peace activity is not perceived to be supported tend not to believe this myth (only 26%), while students in the more prestigious liberal arts college are more likely to believe it (44%). This difference is independent of the level of peace activity which is 4.96 for community college students and 5.27 for liberal arts college students in this study.

The causal relationship between belief and activity appears to be bi-directional, in other words, each factor may cause and reinforce the other. This is indicated when we questioned the students directly about the relationship. Belief, to some extent, appears to affect activity: of the active students 14 of 49 (29%) said that before they began to engage in activity, they had been discouraged by a pessimistic view that humans are intrinsically violent and therefore wars are inevitable. Since this represents the view of active students only, it probably underestimates the effect in the larger population of students with its high proportion of inactive students. on the other hand, activity may cause a change in belief: this is indicated by the fact that 22 of 48 active students (46%) said that their activity for peace had made them more optimistic about human nature. Other data that were gathered in the questionnaire one month earlier enable us to check the internal validity of these responses. There is a significant positive correlation (r= .3l2, p = .015) between the report that activity had made the person more optimistic and the actual belief score that had been reported one month earlier (n=48). Also, there is a significant negative correlation (r = .365, n = 49, p = .005) between the report that activism had previously been inhibited by a pessimistic view of human nature and the actual belief score that was reported one month earlier. Finally. the validity of the responses is also supported by the actual scores of future peace activity: those reporting an increase in optimism as a result of activity had higher activity scores (r = .475, n = 48, p = .00l). In contrast there was no correlation of future activity to the response on whether pessimism had previously interfered with their initial decision to engage in peace activity.

In Table V, the data from this study are compared to similar data from Finland in 1984 and from the pilot study that we carried out in 1985. The main results are consistent. In each case, students who believe that war is not intrinsic to human nature are more likely to have the attitude that they personally can do something about nuclear war. and they are more likely to actually engage in peace activity.

(End of Results)

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