||I. Introduction||Page 1|
Because the threat of nuclear war is a problem that urgently demands solution, it is important to discover the psychological factors that determine activity for peace. In the following study, certain factors are seen to be significant correlates of peace activity of college students in the United States. Of special interest are two factors, beliefs about human nature and war, and anger at those responsible for the threat of war.
Belief in the myth that war is intrinsic to human nature was found by Wahlstrom (1985) to be a significant factor in the peace activity of young people in Finland. Wahlstrom found that students who believe that war is intrinsic to human nature are less likely to think that they personally can do anything to prevent nuclear war. In a preliminary study in the United States one year ago we obtained similar results, and we found that students who believe in that myth are less likely to engage in activity for peace,
Anger was found to be a factor in the development of peace activism in the classic study by Jerome Frank (Frank and Nash. 1965). Of the peace activists questioned, 96% reported moderate to strong emotional reactions, including anger that was expressed as "'outrage', 'furious', 'incensed', 'damned annoyed'...against the country's leadership, or against groups whom they had mistakenly expected to be promoting disarmament." These results were confirmed through the analysis of the oral histories and written autobiographies of peace activists (Adams, 1986 and 1987). Even peace and justice activists who were most famous for their use of non-violent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., made it clear that the proper harnessing of righteous indignation was essential to their own motivation.
The present study confirms and extends earlier findings, showing the relationship of belief and anger to other factors that influence peace activity. As one might expect, a person's belief and anger are correlated with other factors that influence peace activity. However, by means of partial correlation techniques, we show that these factors are to some extent independent of other factors. In other words, neither belief about human nature nor anger at those responsible for war can be explained away as influences upon peace activity simply because they are correlated with other intervening variables.
These findings have important implications for peace education, as will be discussed.
(End of Introduction)