It is well established that exposure to threats causes citizens to prioritize security considerations and accept restrictions on civil liberties. Yet most studies on which these findings are based come from longstanding democracies and do not distinguish among types of threat. This article argues that the effects of internal and external threats are conditional on regime type. It tests the argument via an experiment embedded in an original survey of Georgia and Kazakhstan, countries that vary in regime type but face similar levels of threat. In authoritarian Kazakhstan, there is no difference in attitudes by threat type, whereas external threats produce greater support for security than internal ones in more pluralistic Georgia. Contrary to previous research, security preferences are not mediated by the triggering of anxiety. The findings contribute to literatures on the link between threats and authoritarian preferences, the rally-round-the-flag effect, and the ways that political institutions mediate psychological processes.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.