When the actions of private military contractors result in civilian casualties during war, who do citizens blame? This study argues blame attributions can be shaped by people’s inferences about the motivation of actors operating on behalf of the government. Using national survey data, this study randomizes whether casualties are the result of state military forces or private military forces contracted by the government. The results show that inferences about the motivation of state military forces insulate both military personnel and public officials from blame, while inferences about the motivation of private contractors disperse blame onto contractor personnel and the government. The results provide new theoretical insight into how citizens evaluate government performance and the potential drawbacks of utilizing private contractors to achieve public policy objectives.
- Private military contractors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences(all)
- Public Administration
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law