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Students and the nuclear arms race (1985 survey, final report)

Jennings, P. and Lawrence, J.A. (1986) Students and the nuclear arms race (1985 survey, final report). Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia.

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A survey was carried out amongst tertiary students in Western Australia to determine their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and concerns about the nuclear arms race. Subsidiary aims were to determine their attitudes to peace studies and their sources of information about nuclear weapons and disarmament. The results show a high level of concern amongst students about the nuclear arms race. There was strong support for a variety of multilateral disarmament initiatives, but less support for unilateral action. Most students believe that ordinary people can help to stop the arms race yet few of them are actively involved with peace or disarmament groups. Factor analysis indicates that the major common factor is a concern about the arms race together with a belief that nuclear war will occur in their lifetimes and that Perth could be a nuclear target. Other factors include support for multilateral disarmament, peace studies and opposition to involvement in the arms race. There was strong support for peace studies in schools and universities and some indication that students who were most concerned about the arms race wished to study about how to achieve a peaceful world. As in previous surveys, females indicated a greater concern about the nuclear arms race. The psychological affects of this anxiety require further analysis as they could be a major factor in determining social attitudes. No correlation was found between students' knowledge about the arms race and their concern, attitudes or beliefs. However, these last three variables were found to be highly correlated indicating that beliefs about the arms race probably determine students' attitudes and concerns. It is not clear where these beliefs originate but television and newspapers were identified as the major sources of information about nuclear issues.

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Series Name: Research Report
Publisher: Murdoch University
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