Young People’s Response to The Response: The Impact of Political Diversity and Media Framing on Discussions of Combatant Tribunals


  • Jeremy Stoddard College of William & Mary
  • Jason Chen College of William & Mary



This article presents results of a study of the impact of political dynamics on group deliberations of issues presented in the short film The Response. We selected four groups of 18-22 year-old participants based on political views, engagement, and efficacy (liberal, conservative, and two mixed groups), and asked them to view and discuss issues presented in The Response related to the combatant status review tribunals held at Guantanamo Bay. We found the groups with mixed political views had higher quality discussions of the issues and a better understanding of the issues post-discussion – in particular the tension between national security versus individual rights and of the nature of the tribunals. We also found a significant number of conservative group members became more conservative in their views as a result of their discussion. We discuss implications for secondary and post-secondary education as well as for political polarization overall in society.

Author Biographies

Jeremy Stoddard, College of William & Mary

Associate Professoar, Curriculum & Instruction and Associated Faculty, Film and Media Studies

Jason Chen, College of William & Mary

Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, School of Education