The Effect of War Commemorations on Support for Diplomacy: A Five-Nation Study

Hanne M. Watkins*, Mengyao Li, Aurélien Allard, Bernhard Leidner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We remember the past in order not to repeat it, but does remembrance of war in fact shape support for military or diplomatic approaches to international conflict? In seven samples from five countries (collected online, total N = 2,493), we examined support for military and diplomatic approaches to conflict during war commemorations (e.g., Veterans Day). During war commemorations in the United States, support for diplomacy increased, whereas support for military approaches did not change. We found similar results in the United Kingdom and Australia on Remembrance Day, but not in Germany, or France, nor in Australia on Anzac Day. Furthermore, support for diplomacy was predicted by concern about loss of ingroup military lives during war, independently of concern about harm to outgroup civilians. These studies expand our understanding of how collective memories of war may be leveraged to promote diplomatic approaches to contemporary geopolitical conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-327
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date03 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was partially funded by a Small Research Grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP, No. 19-1-0079), and by a Topol Fellowship for Peace and Nonviolence held by the first author, March-April 2019. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of SPSP.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • diplomacy
  • ingroup bias
  • intergroup conflict
  • militarism
  • war commemoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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