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Differentiating Conflicts in Beliefs Versus Value Tradeoffs in the Domestic Intelligence Policy Debate

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Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there has been an increase in public discussion regarding U.S. domestic intelligence activities. Domestic intelligence activities focus on gathering information about potential threats from individuals within the United States, and completely rational members of the public can have different opinions about the acceptability of various alternatives depending on one's values toward privacy, civil liberty, and security. Past studies have demonstrated that construction of a multiobjective value model can help clarify public values in controversial risk debates. This research explores a range of domestic intelligence alternatives that vary on multiple objectives, and applies value‐focused thinking to develop a multiattribute utility model to evaluate and compare the alternatives. The process demonstrates the feasibility of eliciting model parameters from individuals and provides a method for identifying the locus of possible disagreements among individuals. The development of the model is described first, followed by insights found from participants who provided both value tradeoffs and performance scores for six different domestic intelligence alternatives. The participants were two student groups and a group of police officers. The analysis showed differences among weights for an additive model for different stakeholder groups and differences among the performance scores. In particular, there is a “halo” effect for alternatives, such that its supporters ranked the alternative higher on all attributes compared to respondents who find the alternative unacceptable. This modeling approach and results offer organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security insights into the debate surrounding new policy initiatives, particularly those requiring sensitive value tradeoffs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University. 2: University of California, Berkeley. 3: University of Southern California.

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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