Israeli policies that reward Palestinian efforts to contain violence are more effective than violent crackdowns that punish terrorists and civilians alike, concludes a new University of Maryland-led study analyzing 17 years’ worth of data.
Published in the August issue of the American Sociological Review, the study is the first to empirically evaluate the relative effectiveness of reward and punishment strategies as antidotes to terrorism.
“There aren’t easy answers to combatting terrorism, but overall, our results unambiguously suggest that the carrot tends to be more effective than the stick,” says lead researcher, Laura Dugan, a University of Maryland criminologist and a researcher with National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland. “Of course, there’s something to be said for using both carrot and stick.”
“Moving Beyond Deterrence: The Effectiveness of Raising the Expected Utility of Abstaining from Terrorism in Israel,” found that during the period 1987 to 2004, Israeli policies and actions that encouraged and rewarded abstention from terrorist acts were more successful in reducing terrorism than policies focused on punishment.
“The beneficial effects have been most pronounced when Israel directed actions toward addressing the needs of Palestinian civilians,” Dugan adds. “The general consensus across the political spectrum is that when there is terrorism you have to fight back. But our study suggests there is value in addressing the grievances, the people most affected by these grievances, and the constituencies of these terrorist organizations.”
The researchers use the term “repression” for policies that attempt to punish terrorism, and “conciliatory” for those addressing Palestinian concerns and needs.
“Our argument begins to challenge the very common view that to combat terrorism, you have to meet violence with violence,” says study co-author Erica Chenoweth, an assistant professor at the University of Denver and a START researcher.
August 7, 2012