Economic Downturns and Hardline Public Opinion

Tetsuro Kobayashi*, Dani Madrid-Morales, Yuki Asaba, Atsushi Tago

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: With an aim of extending the scope of group threat theory from within-country tensions between racial groups to international economic competition, this study specifically examined the impacts of perceived relative economic status of an in-group country on attitudes about contentious political issues with a rival out-group country. Methods: Two survey experiments were administered, both of which manipulated Japanese participants’ perceptions of the relative economic powers of Japan and South Korea. Results: When Japanese perceive that their country's economic power is declining relative to South Korea's economy, they demonstrate more hardline attitudes about territorial and historical issues between the two countries. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the applicability of group threat theory to bilateral international relations. It also suggests that public opinion about international conflicts is a function of the long-term rebalancing of economic power, which cannot be easily influenced by short-term policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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