Those Ignorant of Where Ukraine Is Are More Likely To Support Intervention


Credit: Major Nelson/Foter

Political scientists recently polled Americans on their knowledge of where Ukraine is located and their policy recommendations related to the ongoing crisis there. The results show that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more ignorant an American is about the location of the former Soviet country, the more likely he or she is to support U.S. intervention.

According to the polling, done by political scientists Kyle Dropp of Dartmouth College, Joshua D. Kertzer of Harvard, and Thomas Zeitzoff of Princeton, the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off when trying to click on Ukraine on a high-resolution map. According to the map of the results (shown below), some Americans think that South Africa, Australia, China, France, Greenland, and Brazil are Ukraine. Shockingly, some respondents seem to think that Ukraine is inside the U.S.

The Monkey Cage

Perhaps more shocking than the astonishing ignorance of geography demonstrated by those polled is the relationship between this ignorance and support for intervention.

From a post written on the polling at The Washington Post's Monkey Cage:

Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants' general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

The post also mentions that two-thirds of Americans claim to be following the situation in Ukraine at least "somewhat closely."

According to Reason's polling, 58 percent of Americans want to stay out of the current mess in Ukraine altogether and only 8 percent support sending in troops.