The Less Americans Know About Ukraine, the More They Want to Get Involved

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Only one out of six Americans polled in a recent survey was able to correctly identify Ukraine on a map, so naturally those are same Americans who are also the most supportive of U.S. military intervention in the crisis.

The poll, conducted by political scientists Kyle Dropp, Joshua D. Kertzer and Thomas Zeitzoff, asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans to say what action they believe the U.S. should take in Ukraine and, in a separate round of questioning, to point out Ukraine on a map. The authors explain in a Washington Post blog post

In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views.

The researchers constructed a heat map representing where respondents thought Ukraine was, and found that people who thought Ukraine was further away from where it actually is were more likely to think the U.S. should take military action in the region.

According to Dropp, Kertzer and Zeitzoff, most people have a pretty skewed idea of where Ukraine is:

Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off — roughly the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles — locating Ukraine somewhere in an area bordered by Portugal on the west, Sudan on the south, Kazakhstan on the east, and Finland on the north. 

Still, it seems Americans are generally opposed to intervening in Ukraine. According to this poll, respondents are more on board with passive aggressive censure – like Washington boycotting the Russia-hosted G8 summit — than actual military aggression. Last month, CBS noted that 61 percent of respondents to a poll on the subject said they don't think the U.S. has a responsibility to intervene. About 32 percent felt the opposite way. 

For the record, here's our explainer of where Ukraine is: 

Google Maps/The Wire

Now you know. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.