My research interests cover the topics of Public Opinion, Political Behavior, Campaigns and Elections, Political Psychology, American Foreign Policy, Military Veterans, and Social Identity.
My broad research interests are in public opinion and political behavior. My dissertation examines how military service and combat events experienced by military veterans affects their political opinions and behaviors. Specifically, I examine how combat experiences can lead to changes in veterans’ opinions on foreign policy, trust in government, and a shared sense of social identity. Both my dissertation and other research focuses on the ways that individuals react to the political world based on their daily life experiences and social identities.
Previous work on military members has captured combat experiences as a dichotomous experience. Instead, in this paper I consider the multiple layers and added toll that combat experiences can have on service members. I extend the research on military service members’ combat experiences by measuring combat cumulatively. Consistent with previous research, I find that service members who have experienced a single incident of combat are more hawkish than non-military civilians and non-combat military members. However, when considering the cumulative effects of combat, I find that the more combat experiences that military members experience, the less hawkish their foreign policy positions are. This finding should encourage public opinion scholars to consider the cumulative effects that combat has on military members issue positions. The assumptions that all combat experiences are equivalent and do not have a cumulative impact may pose a problem when attempting to account for individual military members experiences.
What does it mean to be a veteran, and how does serving in the armed forces condition how veterans view their sense of identity? In a nationally representative sample with an oversample of veterans, I find that veterans have a stronger sense of identity as a veteran, measured both in terms of self-identification as a veteran and a feeling of closeness to the veteran group. I also find that, among military veterans, combat experience and valuing time in the military leads to higher veteran identity. Moreover, I find that even some non-military members report a greater sense of identity with veterans than others. I compare the effect of this “veteran” identity to that of partisan identity and find that, for most veterans, there is a greater sense of attachment to the veteran identity than to their partisan identity. Finally, I find that veteran identity has an important, independent influence on veterans’ and civilians’ views on military spending. These findings suggest that there is a veteran identity that military members and civilians attach themselves to that is stronger than partisanship for some individuals, and is associated with certain policy positions.
Prior research focuses on the determinants of trust in government and generally shows that governmental performance and individual interactions with government condition a citizen’s trust in government. I advance a theory that, in experiencing combat, military veterans are trained and conditioned to accomplish certain mission objectives on behalf of the government and therefore should have higher levels of trust in government compared to civilians and those service members without combat experience. In contrast, non-combat military veterans have a more difficult time putting faith in the government that trained them to fight given that they ultimately do not fulfill this aspect of their training. Utilizing a nationally quota-based sample with an oversampling of veterans, I examine the relationship between military service, combat experience, and trust in government. Using a novel measure of combat experience, I find that the more combat experiences a military member had, the more trusting they are in government. In addition, I find similar results when using a more traditional measure of combat experience in the 2012 American National Elections Studies (ANES). I also find a theoretically predicted interactive effect of military veteran’s combat experience and age on their trust in government; as age increases, the effect of combat experience on trust wanes over time.
Endicott, Travis W. (2020) Combat Experience and the Foreign Policy Positions of Veterans. Social Science Quarterly. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12796
Armstrong, Grant M., Travis W. Endicott, and Conor M. Dowling. “The Effects of Group-Based Identity Attacks on Political Behavior”
Endicott, Travis W. "The Psychological Toll of Military Combat”
Endicott, Travis W., John M. Bruce, Robert D. Brown. “Understanding Women’s Roles in the Military: Sexism and Veterans Perceptions.”
Armstrong, Grant M., Carson Kay, and Travis W. Endicott. “Target-Sensitive Framing: Broadening the Persuasive Appeal of Issue Frames”
Brown, Robert D., John M. Bruce, Travis W. Endicott. ““You Play Like a Girl”: Sexist Attitudes and Motivations in Evaluations of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team”