Emotalizer: Nuclear Weapons

Posted on November 17th, 2017   

“Do we want Donald Trump’s fingers on the red button?”


With tensions escalating between the US and North Korea, nuclear weapons have been more topical recently than the general public would wish. The increased media coverage on the matter made us consider – does the British public’s reaction to Nuclear Weapons differ based on the country in possession of them?

Feelings towards the US are rather surprising. Even with Donald Trump’s fingers on the red button, 13% of respondents feel positively about America being in possession of nuclear weapons, the highest proportion across the countries quoted. Additionally, 4% feel safe because of it, with no respondents citing this emotion towards any other country.

Though Russia are currently perceived to be a political and democratic threat, respondents’ reactions to Russia in this context are relatively apathetic. Interestingly, 5% of respondents cite Resignation while 0% cite Surprise, as though they assume Russia to be a nuclear player. Germany also receives a largely apathetic reaction, along with relatively high levels of Confusion and Surprise indicating an awareness that they do not currently have nuclear capabilities.

The concept of North Korea or Iraq holding nuclear weapons causes the highest proportion of respondents to cite Scared as their main emotion, both at 28%. North Korea’s possession of these weapons also evokes the highest degree of Worry but doesn’t cause any Surprise, likely due to the high frequency of recent media coverage.

Overall, North Korea evokes the strongest surge of core negative emotions, followed shortly by Iraq. From these results one could conclude that UK citizens would feel less negatively towards nuclear activity coming from the Western world than from the East, regardless of whether the region in question is in Asia or the Middle East. And if nuclear activity from a foreign adversary is a possibility, we would like our Western allies to have the ability to respond with more than an angry tweet.

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