“In the minds of men…”: social representations of war and military intervention

Cohrs, J. Christopher and O'Dwyer, Emma (2018) “In the minds of men…”: social representations of war and military intervention. In: Hammack, Phillip L., (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Social Psychology and Social Justice. Oxford, U.K. : Oxford University Press. pp. 331-350. (Oxford library of psychology) ISBN 9780199938735


This chapter reviews research on representations of war and military intervention, primarily situated in two different social psychological research traditions: individual attitudes and social representations. The former has approached the object of investigation by studying the cognitive and affective correlates, more general predictors, and behavioral consequences of individuals’ support (vs. rejection) of war or military intervention. The latter focuses to a greater extent on contextual and historical processes that influence the social meanings attached to war and military intervention; in this approach attitudes are just one (evaluative) component of social representations – and differences between individuals and groups may be attributed to the various functions social representations fulfill. We thus adopt the broader social representations approach. Based on this, the chapter closes by drawing implications for strategies to change individual attitudes as well as representations of war and military interventions, and by offering questions for future research.

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