International Relations Psychology and Foreign Policy
by
Janice Stein
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 September 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0252

Introduction

The use of psychological concepts to explain the behavior of individuals and groups that shape foreign policy is centuries old. Thucydides in his great History of the Peloponnesian War explored the impact of the fear of decline on leaders’ decisions to go to war. Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August demonstrated how misperception and miscalculation by leaders in the summer of 1914 led to an accidental war that no leader wanted or expected. During and after World War II, political scientists began to draw systematically on psychological concepts to explain foreign policy behavior. Scholarship advanced when the International Society of Political Psychology was founded in 1978 along with a specialized journal, Political Psychology. Early scholarship focused on leaders’ personalities and their impact on the foreign policy choices they made, with special attention devoted to decisions to go to war or make peace. A second wave of scholarship drew on the work of cognitive psychologists who had identified heuristics and biases to explore the impact of the way leaders thought on the foreign policy decisions that they made and examined pairs of interacting leaders to explain spirals of escalation. Scholars mined cognitive psychology to explore decisions to cooperate or compete, the success and failure of deterrence and compellence, and bargaining and signaling behavior by leaders. A third wave of scholarship drew on psychological research on emotion and examined how the emotional states of leaders influenced foreign policy choices. Scholars moved beyond leaders to study elite and group attributes to explain foreign policy behavior. In doing so, they confronted the central problem of aggregation; cognition and emotion are embedded in the individual. When they move to explain group behavior, scholars deepened psychological concepts by adding a broader social dimension to the analysis. Research in the last decade situates feeling and thinking in a larger social and cultural context in a more contextualized explanation of foreign policy behavior. Research is increasingly multidisciplinary, drawing on neuroscience, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral economics to explain foreign policy behavior.

General Overviews

As the use of psychological concepts to explain foreign policy has expanded, no single textbook or collection of readings covers the field. Scholars who draw on psychological concepts of judgment, heuristics, and biases have drawn heavily on the work of Kahneman and Tversky 2000 and Kahneman, et al. 1982. For more general reviews of psychology and international relations, see Goldgeier and Tetlock 2001. Simon 1985 develops the concept of “bounded rationality,” De Rivera 1968 provides an early review of the impact of psychological factors on foreign policy and McDermott 2004 assesses the relevance of social and cognitive psychology. A more recent and comprehensive collection is Huddy, et al. 2013. Levy 2013, an article in that collection, is especially useful.

  • De Rivera, Joseph. The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy. Columbus, OH: Merrill, 1968.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early examination by a psychologist of a broad range of psychological factors, including cognition, emotion, small group dynamics, and interpersonal dynamics on foreign policy decision-making. He was one of the early proponents of embedding a “red team” to counteract biased information processing and group dynamics.

    Find this resource:

  • Goldgeier, James, and Philip E. Tetlock. “Psychology and International Relations Theory.” Annual Review of Political Science 4 (2001): 67–92.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.4.1.67Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A review of the literature that examines the fit of research in cognitive and social psychology with the major scholarly traditions within international relations.

    Find this resource:

  • Huddy, Leonie, Jack S. Levy, and David O. Sears, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A very useful collection of essays that review recent research in political psychology generally, with a strong section on international behavior that includes psychology and foreign policy, perceptions and image theory, threat perception, crisis management, and conflict analysis and resolution.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahneman, Daniel, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky, eds. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511809477Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A collection of results from experiments on psychological models of decision-making that emphasize the heuristics (mental shortcuts) individuals use to structure their choices and the biases that shape choices.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky, eds. Choices, Values, and Frames. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A valuable collection of their pioneering work on risk and decision-making, which uses rational models as a default and identifies systematic deviations. Their work on prospect theory has been widely applied in the analysis of foreign policy decisions.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Psychology and Foreign Policy Decision-Making.” In the Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Edited by Leonie Huddy, David O. Sears, and Jack S. Levy, 301–333. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An excellent review essay on the impact of psychological factors on judgment and decision-making by political leaders.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. Political Psychology in International Relations. Analytical Perspectives on Politics. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.3998/mpub.10847Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A comprehensive review of the application of social and cognitive psychology to the study of security issues in international relations, informed by a deep knowledge of psychology and political science.

    Find this resource:

  • Simon, Herbert A. “Human Nature in Politics: The Dialogue of Psychology with Political Science.” American Political Science Review 79.2 (1985): 293–304.

    DOI: 10.2307/1956650Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early, path-breaking article on “bounded rationality.” Simon concludes that the principle of rationality, if it were not supplemented by extensive empirical research to identify the correct auxiliary assumptions, has little power to make valid predictions about decision-making. This article revolutionized the empirical study of decision-making.

    Find this resource:

Journals

The dedicated peer-reviewed publication Political Psychology has steadily advanced knowledge in the field since its inception in 1979 by the International Society for Political Psychology. Important, early studies of leadership, collective decision-making, and bias appeared in World Politics. In the wake of the cognitive revolution in psychology, psychological approaches to the study of foreign policy were published in important political science journals such as the Annual Review of Political Science. A growing interest in the relationship between psychology and behavior in conflict led to publication of new research in International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Security Studies. In the last decade, research focusing on heuristics and biases in foreign policy decision-making, the role of beliefs, and the micro-foundations of rationality as well as heterogeneity among individual decision-makers has appeared in International Organization.

Summary of Major Theories

The range of psychological theories and concepts to explain foreign policy decisions and behavior is so broad that it is difficult to identify major theories. Almost all the central theories within psychology have been adapted to the explanation of foreign policy choices and behavior. An excellent summary of cognitive concepts is Kahneman 2011. Cognitive psychology has been used by Jervis, et al. 1985 to explain failures of deterrence, compellence, and bargaining. Behavioral decision theory has been used by Hafner-Burton, et al. 2017 to explain foreign policy choices. Prospect theory has been used by Levy 1997 and McDermott 2004b to explain risk-taking in foreign policy decision-making. Emotion has been used by Mercer 2010 to explain foreign policy beliefs and by Markwica 2018 to explain the outcome of coercive diplomacy. Mercer 2005 and McDermott 2004a use emotion and neuroscience to deepen the understanding of rationality.

  • Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., Stephan Haggard, David A. Lake, and David G. Victor. “The Behavioral Revolution and International Relations.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S1–31.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000400Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A review of the major concepts in behavioral economics and a discussion of their potential application to international politics. The lead article in a special issue devoted to the application of behavioral economics to problems in international politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert, Richard Ned Lebow, and Janice Gross Stein. Psychology and Deterrence. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One of the first applications of psychological concepts to deterrence theory and practice. The book provided empirical evidence that challenged rational accounts of deterrence and sparked a decade of controversy and new research.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2011.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Kahneman, along with his colleague Amos Tversky, led the cognitive revolution and developed prospect theory. This book summarizes his research and extends it to new frontiers at the intersection of cognition and emotion. A seminal book.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Prospect Theory, Rational Choice, and International Relations.” International Studies Quarterly 41.1 (1997): 87–112.

    DOI: 10.1111/0020-8833.00034Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A systematic comparison of prospect theory and expected utility theory and their relevance to foreign policy analysis. Levy finds that loss aversion is easily subsumed within expected utility models, while framing effects are more problematic. A priority is the development of hypotheses on the framing of foreign policy decisions.

    Find this resource:

  • Markwica, Robin. Emotional Choices: How the Logic of Affect Shapes Coercive Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794349.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A major contribution to the field that unifies cognition and emotion to develop a logic of emotional choice that connects to broader cultural and social theories. The book develops a clear set of theoretical expectations and tests them against evidence from two cases of coercive diplomacy with rich documentary evidence.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. “The Feeling of Rationality: The Meaning of Neuroscientific Advances for Political Science.” Perspectives on Politics 2.4 (2004a): 691–706.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592704040459Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Highlights the relevance of emotion and its application to analysis of decision-making. McDermott develops a theory of decision-making built on the concept of emotional rationality.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. “Prospect Theory in Political Science: Gains and Losses from the First Decade.” Political Psychology 25.2 (2004b): 289–312.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00372.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A review of the strengths and weaknesses of the application of prospect theory to political behavior. Future research on the incorporation of prospect theory into models of political behavior should focus on such areas as group decision‐making, reference point specification, and emotion.

    Find this resource:

  • Mercer, Jonathan. “Rationality and Psychology in International Politics.” International Organization 59.1 (2005): 77–106.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818305050058Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An important article that explores the relationship between psychology and micro-economic concepts of rationality. In the context of foreign policy, psychological analyses of decision-making in strategic contexts or the impact of trust, identity, or reputation on the outcome of choice may provide more robust results than micro-economic models of rationality.

    Find this resource:

  • Mercer, Jonathan. “Emotional Beliefs.” International Organization 64.1 (2010): 1–31.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818309990221Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Explores the relationship between cognition, emotion, and beliefs. Revolutionary research in the brain sciences confirms that rationality depends on emotion. Emotion simultaneously constitutes and strengthens beliefs such as trust, nationalism, justice, or credibility. The co-production of beliefs by emotion and cognition has important policy implications.

    Find this resource:

Methodology

Political psychologists who apply psychology to foreign policy choices and behavior face two broad challenges. First is the well-known aggregation problem, or the inappropriateness of applying individual attributes that are embodied to groups. Scholars that use psychology to explain state behavior have responded in two broad ways. Many have focused on individual leaders who are central decision-makers; the challenge then disappears. Others locate psychological concepts in their broader and social and cultural context. Second is the challenge of identifying thoughts and emotions and tracing decision-making processes. Scholars use a variety of methods, ranging from experimental methods in a laboratory to online experiments to detailed interviewing of decision-makers to archival research. Hafner-Burton, et al. 2017; Stein 2017; and Powell 2017 discuss these methodological challenges. McDermott 2014 reviews experimental methods and Mintz, et al. 2011 examines these challenges and their appropriate responses. It is important to note that approaches like rational choice face similar challenges, but scholars are generally less inclined to acknowledge issues of aggregation.

  • Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., Stephan Haggard, David A. Lake, and David G. Victor. “The Behavioral Revolution and International Relations.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S1–S31.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000400Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A discussion of the “aggregation problem,” also known as the level of analysis problem when scholars apply concepts developed at one level to another.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. “Research Transparency and Data Archiving for Experiments.” PS: Political Science & Politics 47.1 (2014): 67–71.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1049096513001741Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article focuses on the use of experimental methods, with particular attention to their strengths and weaknesses. McDermott pays particular attention to recent efforts to increase transparency, accountability, replicability, and data archiving.

    Find this resource:

  • Mintz, Alex, Yi Yang, and Rose McDermott. “Experimental Approaches to International Relations.” International Studies Quarterly 55.2 (2011): 493–501.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00662.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An overview of different various types of experiments used in the broad field of international relations, including paper-and-pencil experiments; survey-based experiments; computerized process-tracing experiments; field and natural experiments; and cognitive neuroscience experiments.

    Find this resource:

  • Powell, Robert. “Research Bets and Behavioral IR.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S265–S277.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000461Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An analysis of the fundamental challenges to the application of psychological models in international relations when states, groups, and political parties, rather than individuals, are the principal units of analysis. Argues that making nonstandard assumptions about preferences and beliefs or building theories exclusively at the individual level are both likely to fail.

    Find this resource:

  • Stein, Janice Gross. “The Micro-Foundations of International Relations Theory: Psychology and Behavioral Economics.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S249–S263.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000436Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article examines the aggregation problem from multiple theoretical perspectives and argues that psychological approaches are not unique in the challenges that they face. It reviews progress in the application of prospect theory to explanations of international behavior and assesses its cumulative contribution over time.

    Find this resource:

Individual Decision-Making

Studies of individual decision-making encompass a broad range of dimensions in the psychological analysis of foreign policy. Analyses of the personality attributes of senior leaders were among the earliest studies. Psychological theories of decision-making broadened the scope of analysis to include cognitive and affective dimensions of choice. Prospect theory, a theory of choice, builds in both cognitive and affective dimensions. Recent research explicitly integrates cognition and affect and emphasizes individual heterogeneity across these dimensions.

Personality and Leadership

It is not surprising that scholars turned to personality theories when they analyzed the impact of presidents of the United States on foreign policy. In a political system with divided powers, presidents traditionally have had large scope for action on foreign policy. George and George 1964 and George and George 1998 are seminal works on the impact of Woodrow Wilson’s personality and his relationship with Colonel House on US foreign policy and more generally on presidential personality and performance. Hermann 1980 and Kowert and Hermann 1997 examine personality attributes across leaders in an investigation of the relationship between personality types and foreign policy actions. McDermott, et al. 2016 examines neuroscientific and evolutionary approaches to the impact of leaders. Jervis 2017 explores patterns of thought among leaders in foreign policy to trace the impact of cognition on state behavior. Yahri-Milo 2018 draws on a stable psychological trait of self-monitoring to explain why certain leaders will fight for reputation.

  • George, Alexander L., and Juliette L. George. Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study. New York: Dover, 1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A compelling psychobiography of President Woodrow Wilson and his principal advisor, written by a political scientist and a psychologist. The volume brought personality back to the study of leaders’ behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • George, Alexander L., and Juliette L. George. Presidential Personality and Performance. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Building on the earlier volume, George and George develop a comparative typology of personality and apply it systematically to the assessment of presidential performance.

    Find this resource:

  • Hermann, Margaret G. “Explaining Foreign Policy Behavior Using the Personal Characteristics of Political Leaders.” International Studies Quarterly 24.1 (1980): 7–46.

    DOI: 10.2307/2600126Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An analysis of the impact of the personal characteristics of political leaders on foreign policy behavior. The study examines the impact of six personal characteristics of forty-five heads of government on the foreign policy behavior of their states.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert. How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400885336Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Jervis argues that expectations and political and psychological needs are the major drivers of perceptions in international politics. He demonstrates how emotional needs help structure beliefs and how decision-makers use multiple shortcuts to seek and process information when making foreign policy and national security judgments. Rich with examples from history, this book is a basic compendium for students in the field.

    Find this resource:

  • Kowert, Paul A., and Margaret G. Hermann. “Who Takes Risks?: Daring and Caution in Foreign Policy Making.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 41.5 (1997): 611–637.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002797041005001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A statistical analysis of the loss aversion hypothesis of prospect theory that fails to predict behavior in one-third of their experimental subjects. To investigate the contribution of individual differences to risk taking, the authors administered three questionnaires assessing risk propensity and two personality inventories to 126 subjects. The results identify strong personality predictors of generalized risk taking.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose, Anthony C. Lopez, and Peter K. Hatemi. “An Evolutionary Approach to Political Leadership.” Security Studies 25.4 (2016): 677–698.

    DOI: 10.1080/09636412.2016.1220204Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the evolutionary functions of political leadership, including approaches to collective action problems, leader-follower dynamics, institutional and organizational environments, and leader attributes.

    Find this resource:

  • Yahri-Milo, Keren. Who Fights for Reputation? The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that state leaders in similar environments are not equally willing to use military force to protect reputation. Yahri-Milo explains individual heterogeneity by looking at a stable psychological trait—self-monitoring. She develops a four-fold typology of ideal leaders, combining hawk and dove dispositions and their high or low self-monitoring inclinations to explain patterns of leaders who fight for reputation.

    Find this resource:

General Theories of Decision-Making

Theories of decision-making in foreign policy, beginning in the 1960s, drew heavily on cognitive theories in psychology. These approaches generally treated “rational” decision-making as the default and identified systematic patterns of bias in the ways leaders made foreign policy choices. Quattrone and Tversky 1988 compared rational and cognitive models, while George 1980 and Vertzberger 1990 paid particular attention to patterns of information processing. Mintz and DeRouen 2010 and Keller and Yang 2015 formalized three patterns of decision-making into a poliheuristic theory that combines strategies of elimination of options that do not meet minimalist criteria in the early phases with a more formal process in the final sequence of decision-making.

  • George, Alexander. Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use of Information and Advice. Westview Special Studies in International Relations. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1980.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early seminal work on individual, informal group, and formal decision-making processes in US foreign policy. George makes recommendations both on how individual biases can be mitigated and on how systems of information processing can be improved.

    Find this resource:

  • Keller, Jonathan, and Yi Edward Yang. “Problem Representation, Option Generation, and Poliheuristic Theory: An Experimental Analysis.” Political Psychology 37.5 (2015): 739–752.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12283Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The researchers develop a hybrid model of problem representation and poliheuristic theory where the unconscious problem representations of leaders occur before the conscious screening among options. They test the model experimentally and find problem representation determines the conscious options that are available to leaders when they are making decisions.

    Find this resource:

  • Mintz, Alex, and Karl DeRouen Jr. Understanding Foreign Policy Decision Making. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511757761Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors examine five models of decision-making—rational actor, cybernetic, bureaucratic politics, poliheuristic theory, and prospect theory—and the psychological factors that shape decisions. They analyze the US decision to invade Iraq in 2003 from the perspective of all five models.

    Find this resource:

  • Quattrone, George A., and Amos Tversky. “Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice.” American Political Science Review 82.3 (1988): 719–736.

    DOI: 10.2307/1962487Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Quattrone and Tversky contrast the rational theory of choice in the form of expected utility theory with descriptive psychological analysis in the form of prospect theory. The results show that the assumptions underlying the classical theory of risky choice are systematically violated in the ways predicted by prospect theory.

    Find this resource:

  • Vertzberger, Yaacov. The World in Their Minds: Information Processing, Cognition, and Perception in Foreign Policy Decisionmaking. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A pioneering study of the dynamics that underlie information processing in foreign policy decision-making, the resultant biases and errors, and the implications for the quality of foreign policy decisions.

    Find this resource:

Cognitive Dimensions of Individual Decision-Making

Cognitive theories of individual decision-making are diverse in their perspectives. They range from theories of misperception, the importance of beliefs in information processing and choice, the impact of learning, the use of analogies and heuristics in interpreting information, the impact of uncertainty on probability estimation, and the prevalence of hyperbolic discounting on the weighting of consequences and their likelihoods.

Perception and Misperception

Tuchman 1962 provides a riveting historical account of the impact of misperception on the outbreak of World War I. The analysis of patterns of perception and misperception generated a large body of cumulative research on the impact of patterns of thinking on foreign policy choices. The seminal work is Jervis 1976 who identified patterns of leaders’ misperception in historical cases that led to either unwanted escalation or a failure to deter war. Duelfer and Dyson 2011; Farnham 1990; Herrmann 1988; Jervis 1988; Jervis, et al. 1985; and Levy 1983 all followed within this tradition. These patterns of misperception are traced to belief structures, flawed patterns of information processing, conative dissonance that led to systematic discounting or denial of information and motivated biases driven by wishful thinking. A challenge common across this work is the difficulty of identifying accurate perception against which misperception is judged.

  • Duelfer, Charles A., and Stephen Benedict Dyson. “Chronic Misperception and International Conflict.” International Security 36.1 (2011): 73–100.

    DOI: 10.1162/ISEC_a_00045Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The war in Iraq in 2003 is explained by the perceptions that the governments of the United States and Iraq had of one another and by the reinforcing biases in the intelligence community.

    Find this resource:

  • Farnham, Barbara. “Political Cognition and Decision-Making.” Political Psychology 11.1 (1990): 83–111.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791516Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Farnham argues strongly that psychological theories of decision-making must take account of the larger political context in which leaders make choices to avoid labeling as error what is explicable by political dynamics.

    Find this resource:

  • Herrmann, Richard. “The Empirical Challenge of the Cognitive Revolution: A Strategy for Drawing Inferences about Perceptions.” International Studies Quarterly 32.2 (1988): 175–203.

    DOI: 10.2307/2600626Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Herrmann addresses the methodological and empirical challenge of making inferences about beliefs and perceptions.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert. Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early foundational work on misperception and its impact on leaders’ behavior in foreign policy. Jervis identifies a series of important cognitive biases and through careful historical research shows how patterns of misperception can fuel unwanted escalation. This seminal work, more than any other, led to decades of research on the impact of psychological factors on leaders’ decision-making.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert. “War and Misperception.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18.4 (1988): 675–700.

    DOI: 10.2307/204820Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Defines misperception to include inaccurate inferences, miscalculations of consequences, and misjudgments about how others are likely to react and explores their impact on pathways to war.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert, Richard Ned Lebow, and Janice Gross Stein. Psychology and Deterrence. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early examination of the impact of misperception, flawed estimation of probabilities, loss aversion, and motivated bias on cases of deterrence failure.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Misperception and the Causes of War: Theoretical Linkages and Analytical Problems.” World Politics 36.1 (1983): 76–99.

    DOI: 10.2307/2010176Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A conceptualization of different forms of misperception and the theoretical linkages by which they may lead to war under certain conditions. Like Herrmann, Levy examines the conceptual and methodological problems of identifying misperceptions and of assessing their causal impact on decisions that lead to war.

    Find this resource:

  • Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. The Guns of August. New York: Macmillan, 1962.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A seminal account by a historian of the role of misperception in the outbreak of World War I.

    Find this resource:

Beliefs

Cognitive psychologists have identified patterns of beliefs and schemas, or the organization of beliefs into structured associations at different levels of complexity, as a central driver of choice and behavior. In the late 1940s, scholars began to map belief structures in the attempt to explain Soviet behavior. George 1969, himself a pioneer in this field, adapted and developed the concept of operational code to map systematically leaders’ beliefs. Renshon 2008 uses the analysis of operational codes to assess changes in belief systems. New methodologies such as content analysis were applied to make the analysis of belief systems more rigorous. More recently, Castano, et al. 2016 used experimental methods to analyze national images and Rathbun, et al. 2016 links values to beliefs. Larson 1994 and McDermott 2002 expand the systematic analysis of belief systems and schemas by linking patterns of beliefs to policy choices.

  • Castano, Emanuele, Alain Bonacossa, and Peter Gries. “National Images as Integrated Schemas: Subliminal Primes of Image Attributes Shape Foreign Policy Preferences.” Political Psychology 37.3 (2016): 351–366.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12259Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    International Image Theory (IIT) suggests that individuals maintain holistic images of other countries akin to schemas, and that these national images shape both attitudes and foreign policy preferences. Using experimental methods, they find that participants who were subliminally primed evaluated that country consistent with the prime.

    Find this resource:

  • George, Alexander L. “The ‘Operational Code’: A Neglected Approach to the Study of Political Leaders and Decision-Making.” International Studies Quarterly 13.2 (1969): 190–222.

    DOI: 10.2307/3013944Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early fundamental article, drawing on the research of Nathan Leites, to map the belief systems of foreign policy decision-makers to connect belief and preferences in an “operational code.” Although operational codes are not widely used today, cognitive mapping continues to be important.

    Find this resource:

  • Larson, Deborah Welch. “The Role of Belief Systems and Schemas in Foreign Policy Decision-Making.” Political Psychology 15.1 (1994): 17–33.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791437Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Larson compares belief systems and schemas. Schemas are formulated at a higher level of generality and are more closely connected to complex causal processes. Larson illustrates how schemas can be used to analyze the impact of information processing and expertise on foreign policy decision-making.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. “Arms Control and the First Reagan Administration: Belief-Systems and Policy Choices.” Journal of Cold War Studies 4.4 (2002): 29–59.

    DOI: 10.1162/15203970260209509Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In an intriguing use of experimental psychology, McDermott shows how the heuristic of availability, which makes particular beliefs more accessible, influenced Reagan’s choices in arms control negotiations.

    Find this resource:

  • Rathbun, Brian C., Joshua D. Kertzer, Jason Reifler, Paul Goren, and Thomas J. Scotto. “Taking Foreign Policy Personally: Personal Values and Foreign Policy Attitudes.” International Studies Quarterly 60.1 (2016): 124–137.

    DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqv012Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Individuals have general orientations that inform their beliefs about foreign policy issues. Rathbun, et al. find that the basic values that people use to make choices daily cross over to the domain of foreign policy. This consistency between values and foreign policy beliefs holds across high- and low-knowledge respondents.

    Find this resource:

  • Renshon, Jonathan. “Stability and Change in Belief Systems: The Operational Code of George W. Bush.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 52.6 (2008): 820–849.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002708323669Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses operational code mapping to explore the causal mechanisms of change in foreign policy beliefs.

    Find this resource:

Learning

The application of psychological theories of learning to explain foreign policy behavior has been challenging. Within psychology, objective measure of achievement is often available but there are few counterparts in foreign policy. Levy 1994 provides an excellent review of the literature and argues for a subjective measure of learning. Breslauer and Tetlock 1991 draws more heavily on social psychology to explain learning while Stein 1994 draws on theories of inductive learning through trial and error and quick feedback. Theories of trial and error learning bear some similarities to the focus on practice that would develop in international relations two decades later. Farkas 1998 uses evolutionary and social psychology to identify influencers. Researchers continue to disagree on the definition of learning and on its measurement.

  • Breslauer, George W., and Philip E. Tetlock, eds. Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Essays on learning during the Cold War that draw on organizational and social psychology as well as individual theories of learning.

    Find this resource:

  • Farkas, Andrew. State Learning and International Change. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

    DOI: 10.3998/mpub.14537Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This analysis draws on evolutionary and social psychology to identify individuals who become influencers whose policy ideas are more likely to be adopted. Those who have access to better quality information as well as prior successes are more likely to become influencers from whom others learn.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Learning and Foreign Policy: Sweeping a Conceptual Minefield.” International Organization 48.2 (1994): 279–312.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818300028198Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Levy rightly calls the psychological literature on learning a conceptual minefield as he examines how political leaders learn from historical experience, and how the lessons of history influence their foreign policy preferences and decisions. Inferences from analogies and from historical experience often have a far greater impact on policy than is warranted by standard rules of evidence.

    Find this resource:

  • Stein, Janice Gross. “Political Learning by Doing: Gorbachev as Uncommitted Thinker and Motivated Learner.” International Organization 48.2 (1994): 155–183.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818300028150Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article disagrees with the conceptualization of learning as change and puts forward one theory of learning as a trial and error inductive process, as distinct from deductive processes of learning. An examination of Gorbachev’s processes of learning provide empirical support for this kind of inductive learning in foreign policy.

    Find this resource:

Analogies

Political psychologists have paid special attention to learning by analogy, in part because diplomatic historians have traditionally made similar arguments to explain foreign policy behavior. The analogy to Munich when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made concessions to Adolph Hitler in the hope of satisfying his ambition and avoiding war with Germany, only to be faced with further aggression the following year, is frequently invoked. Scholars argue that it correctly or mistakenly shaped much of American thinking about Soviet Russia. Neustadt and May 1986 did a pioneering study of analogies from history followed by Vertzberger 1986 and then by Khong 1992, who draws explicitly on psychological theories to examine the use of three different analogies by American decision-makers as they contested policies in Vietnam. Inboden 2014 examines how policymakers use history more broadly.

  • Inboden, William. “Statecraft, Decision-Making, and the Varieties of Historical Experience: A Taxonomy.” Journal of Strategic Studies 37.2 (2014): 291–318.

    DOI: 10.1080/01402390.2013.829402Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A taxonomy of the various ways that national security policymakers attempt to use history. It finds that policymakers engage with history in more diverse and complex ways than are commonly understood.

    Find this resource:

  • Khong, Yuen Foong. Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early foundational work on leaders’ use of analogies to frame their decisions. Analogical thinking can also be considered a form of learning. Khong illustrates how American decision-makers used analogies to shape their decisions on Vietnam.

    Find this resource:

  • Neustadt, Richard E., and Ernest R. May. Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers. New York: The Free Press, 1986.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a classic collaboration by a political scientist and an historian, the authors describe how leaders use history in their decision-making and develop prescriptions to improve the policymaking process.

    Find this resource:

  • Vertzberger, Yaacov. “Foreign Policy Decisionmakers as Practical-Intuitive Historians: Applied History and Its Shortcomings.” International Studies Quarterly 30.2 (1986): 223–247.

    DOI: 10.2307/2600677Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a pioneering study, Vertzberger conceives of decision-makers as practical-intuitive historians. He develops a systematic theoretical analysis of how decision-makers use historical analogies, metaphors, and extrapolations from history and concludes with suggestions for controlling the risks of abusing history.

    Find this resource:

Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a defining characteristic of the foreign policy environment. The consequences of the options decision-makers identify almost always have not occurred in sufficient numbers that probability functions can be generated, and risks calculated. Psychologists have examined how decision-makers deal with uncertainty, as distinct from risk, and the processes they use to generate subjective probability estimates. Tversky and Kahneman 1992 distinguishes between uncertainty and risk and Loewenstein, et al. 2001 analyzes risk and uncertainty as subjectively experienced emotions rather than as calculations. Rathbun 2007 explores the multiple meanings of uncertainty and Katzenstein and Seybert 2018 explores social convention as psychosocial antidotes to uncertainty.

  • Katzenstein, Peter J., and Lucia A. Seybert. “Protean Power and Uncertainty: Exploring the Unexpected in World Politics.” International Studies Quarterly 62.1 (2018): 80–93.

    DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqx092Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article introduces the concept of protean power or agility as the basis for a better analysis of unanticipated events in world politics. Leaders respond to shifts between risk and uncertainty, in both context and experience, with affirmation, refusal, improvisation, or innovation. An important article that makes clear the difference between risk and uncertainty and its consequences for decision-making.

    Find this resource:

  • Loewenstein, George F., Elke U. Weber, Christopher K. Hsee, and Ned Welch. “Risk as Feelings.” Psychological Bulletin 127.2 (2001): 267–286.

    DOI: 10.1037//0033-2909.127.2.267Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Virtually all current theories of choice under risk or uncertainty are cognitive and consequentialist. Loewenstein, et al. propose the risk-as-feelings hypothesis that highlights the role of affect experienced at the moment of decision-making. They show that the risk-as-feelings hypothesis explains a wide range of phenomena that have resisted interpretation in cognitive–consequentialist terms. An important article that treats risk as driven by emotions.

    Find this resource:

  • Rathbun, Brian C. “Uncertain about Uncertainty: Understanding the Multiple Meanings of a Crucial Concept in International Relations Theory.” International Studies Quarterly 51.3 (2007): 533–557.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2007.00463.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An important article that unpacks the meaning of uncertainty within different traditions in international relations. Rathbun argues that understanding the meaning of uncertainty within each tradition is necessary to grasp their logic.

    Find this resource:

  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5.4 (1992): 297–323.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00122574Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A revised statement of prospect theory that identifies scope conditions for overweighting and underweighting of probabilities more precisely and provides thresholds when patterns of risk-acceptance reverse.

    Find this resource:

Heuristics

Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts, rules of thumb that people use to reduce uncertainty and manage complexity. Kahneman, et al. 1982 did the foundational work in identifying the heuristics and biases that people use in predictable ways when they are making judgments. Jervis 1986 examines the way leaders use the heuristic of representativeness when they make judgments and decisions about foreign policy. Yarhi-Milo 2013 and Yarhi-Milo 2014 examine the role heuristics play in leaders’ assessment of the intentions of their adversaries and Holmes 2016 examines first impressions as a heuristic. Johnson and Tierney 2011 analyzes the impact of heuristics on decisions to go to war and Stein 1988 emphasizes the importance of linking heuristics to the broader political and strategic context.

  • Holmes, Marcus. “You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression? First Encounters and Face-Based Threat Perception.” Journal of Global Security Studies 1.4 (2016): 285–302.

    DOI: 10.1093/jogss/ogw015Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study looks at first impressions as a cognitive heuristic that has lasting consequences for the way threats are perceived.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert. “Representativeness in Foreign Policy Judgments.” Political Psychology 7.3 (1986): 483–505.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791253Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Jervis tests the representativeness heuristic and its underlying argument that people underutilize base rate information. Evidence from cases of foreign policy decision-making contradicts the argument. Decision-makers use priors in large part because they rely on them for causal arguments.

    Find this resource:

  • Johnson, Dominic D. P., and Dominic Tierney. “The Rubicon Theory of War: How the Path to Conflict Reaches the Point of No Return.” International Security 361 (2011): 7–40.

    DOI: 10.1162/ISEC_a_00043Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article looks at the deliberative processes before a decision is reached and compares them to post-decisional processes where cognitive shortcuts lead to closed-mindedness, biased information processing, self-serving evaluations, the illusion of control, and optimism. Together, these biases lead to significant overconfidence and elevate the probability of war.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahneman, Daniel, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky, eds. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511809477Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A collection of articles on the cognitive shortcuts people tend to use when they make decisions under conditions of uncertainty and risk. This collection contains many of the most important articles from the early phase of the cognitive revolution.

    Find this resource:

  • Stein, Janice Gross. “Building Politics into Psychology: The Misperception of Threat.” Political Psychology 9.2 (1988): 245–271.

    DOI: 10.2307/3790955Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article reviews the psychological literature and its application to the misperception of threat in international politics. It urges further research on the interaction among heuristics and the integration of cognitive and emotional processes. Finally, the author recommends that psychological variables be situated in the larger political and strategic context to better explain foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Yarhi-Milo, Keren. “In the Eye of the Beholder: How Leaders and Intelligence Communities Assess the Intentions of Adversaries.” International Security 38.1 (2013): 7–51.

    DOI: 10.1162/ISEC_a_00128Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Yarhi-Milo argues that individual perceptual biases and organizational interests and practices influence the types of indicators a state’s political leaders and its intelligence community regard as credible signals of an adversary’s intentions. Policymakers often base their interpretations on their own theories, expectations, and needs, while intelligence organizations typically prioritize the collection and analysis of data on the adversary’s military inventory.

    Find this resource:

  • Yarhi-Milo, Keren. Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations. Princeton Studies in International History and Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An expansion of the article into a monograph. A compelling theoretical account explored through three historical case studies (British assessments of German intentions 1934–1939; American assessments of Soviet intentions 1977–1980; American assessments of Soviet intentions 1985–1988) of the processes by which leaders and intelligence organizations assess their adversaries’ intentions. The cases confirm her hypothesis of “selective attention,” or vividness, subjective credibility, and organizational expertise.

    Find this resource:

Hyperbolic Discounting

Cognitive psychologists have identified a significant tendency to discount the future. The discount rate becomes stronger the further away the future. Krebs and Rapport 2012 and Streich and Levy 2007 outline the impact of discounting the future on state behavior and the prospect for international agreements and Renshon 2015 analyzes the impact of sunk costs on leaders’ decisions.

  • Krebs, Ronald R., and Aaron Rapport. “International Relations and the Psychology of Time Horizons.” International Studies Quarterly 56.3 (2012): 530–543.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00726.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors draw experimental evidence from psychology and behavioral economics about how people discount future value and construe future events to explain why preventive wars are frequently started too late by declining powers and too soon by rising competitors. An elegant application of psychology to a puzzle in international relations.

    Find this resource:

  • Renshon, Jonathan. “Losing Face and Sinking Costs: Experimental Evidence on the Judgment of Political and Military Leaders.” International Organization 69.3 (2015): 659–695.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818315000107Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses experimental evidence from senior executives to demonstrate that the fear of losing status impedes decision-making and increases the tendency to “throw good money after bad,” but that power aids decision-making by buffering high-power subjects against the worst effects of status loss. There are issues of external validity when experimental evidence is extrapolated to foreign policy decision-makers.

    Find this resource:

  • Streich, Philip, and Jack S. Levy. “Time Horizons, Discounting, and Intertemporal Choice.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 51.2 (2007): 199–226.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002706298133Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors examine the impact of declining discount rates; preference reversals; higher discount rates for smaller payoffs than for larger payoffs and for gains than for losses; framing effects based on expectations; and a preference for ascending rather than descending sequences and apply a quasi-hyperbolic discount model to the problem of cooperation in iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma games. An elegant demonstration.

    Find this resource:

Prospect Theory: Framing, Risk, and Loss Avoidance

Prospect theory is a cognitive and affective theory of choice that focuses on reference dependence, framing effects, and loss-avoidance. It makes an important contribution to the understanding of risk as feeling. Developed through experimental studies, it is one of the most widely applied theories in the psychological analysis of foreign policy. Applying concepts developed in the lab outside the experimental concept is challenging.

Prospect Theory

Prospect theory, developed in Kahneman and Tversky 1979 and Kahneman and Tversky 1984 and refined in Tversky and Kahneman 1981 and Tversky and Kahneman 1992, proposed a theory of decision-making built on framing effects and loss aversion. They demonstrated that people’s choices among prospects are shaped by “framing effects,” the method for or sequence of the presentation of options. People frame their choices around a reference point and consider relative gains and losses from that reference point rather than estimate the net expected value of their assets. People are also much more sensitive to losses than they are to equivalent gains; the value function is concave in the region of gains but convex in the region of losses. The impact of loss aversion is amplified by systematic distortions in the weighting of probabilities. Individuals tend to underweight low probabilities and overweight high probabilities. Quattrone and Tversky 1988 compares prospect theory to rational models. Prospect theory has been tested across a wide range of situations, with varying success, and applied by scholars to different dimensions of state behavior.

  • Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky. “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk.” Econometrica 47.2 (1979): 263–292.

    DOI: 10.2307/1914185Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In their initial publication on prospect theory, Kahneman and Tversky develop a descriptive theory of decision-making under conditions of risk. Their results draw from controlled experiments in the laboratory.

    Find this resource:

  • Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky. “Choices, Values, and Frames.” American Psychologist 39.4 (1984): 341–350.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.39.4.341Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Kahneman and Tversky introduce the concepts of cognitive and psychophysical determinants of choice in risky and riskless contexts. They document risk aversion in the domain of gains and risk seeking in the domain of losses and the overweighting of sure things and of improbable events, relative to events of moderate probability. They subsequently modify these findings in their later article on cumulative prospect theory.

    Find this resource:

  • Quattrone, George A., and Amos Tversky. “Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice.” American Political Science Review 82.3 (1988): 719–736.

    DOI: 10.2307/1962487Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Quattrone and Tversky conduct experiments focusing on choices among political options and find support for prospect theory.

    Find this resource:

  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice.” Science 211.4481 (1981):453–458.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.7455683Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a seminal article, Tversky and Kahneman demonstrate how framing of decisions and evaluations of probabilities and outcomes produce predictable shifts of preference. These experimental results challenge a fundamental assumption of rational choice on the ordering of preferences.

    Find this resource:

  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5.4 (1992): 297–323.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00122574Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Tversky and Kahneman revise prospect theory to include more carefully specified scope conditions that alter some important predictions. The core concepts of reference dependence and loss aversion remain central.

    Find this resource:

Testing Prospect Theory in the Field

Prospect theory has been widely tested in the field of economics. After initial skepticism, economists are finding considerable support for its central propositions under specified scope conditions. Barberis 2013 in the most wide-ranging review of thirty years of research identifies the challenges of testing these propositions in the field but finds generally supporting evidence. Camerer 2004 also finds external validity.

  • Barberis, Nicholas C. “Thirty Years of Prospect Theory in Economics: A Review and Assessment.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 27.1 (2013): 173–196.

    DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.1.173Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Barberis offers an analysis of prospect theory three decades after its initial publication that finds general support for core propositions.

    Find this resource:

  • Camerer, Colin F. “Prospect Theory in the Wild: Evidence from the Field.” In Advances in Behavioral Economics. Edited by Colin F. Camerer, George F. Loewenstein, and Matthew Rabin, 148–161. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Camerer makes a strong argument for the external validity of prospect theory. External validity is generally a significant problem for laboratory-based results.

    Find this resource:

Framing Effects

Framing effects are a central component of prospect theory. Tversky and Kahneman 1992 demonstrated that people’s choices among prospects are shaped by “framing effects,” the method for or sequence of the presentation of options. People frame their choices around a reference point and consider relative gains and losses from that reference point rather than estimate the net expected value of their assets. Kühberger 1998 does a meta-analysis of the impact of framing on risky decisions and identifies scope conditions that modify or amplify these effects and Levin, et al. 1998 distinguishes among types of frames. Levy 1992 assesses the usefulness of prospect theory as an explanation of foreign policy decisions and Boettcher 2004, Garrison 2001, Nincic 1997, Perla 2011, and Wynter 2017 test the robustness of framing effects on differing dimensions of foreign policy.

  • Boettcher, William A. “The Prospects for Prospect Theory: An Empirical Evaluation of International Relations Applications of Framing and Loss Aversion.” Political Psychology 25.3 (2004): 331–362.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00375.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Boettcher compares framing effects at the individual and group level and finds that framing effects in group settings diminish significantly within the group even when these effects are strong at the individual level.

    Find this resource:

  • Garrison, Jean A. “Framing Foreign Policy Alternatives in the Inner Circle: President Carter, His Advisors, and the Struggle for the Arms Control Agenda.” Political Psychology 22.4 (2001): 775–807.

    DOI: 10.1111/0162-895X.00262Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An interesting test of how policymakers use frames to influence presidential decisions in favor of their preferred policy option. This article raises the issue of how knowledge of framing effects can be used to manipulate choice.

    Find this resource:

  • Kühberger, Anton. “The Influence of Framing on Risky Decisions: A Meta-Analysis.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 75.1 (1998): 23–55.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1998.2781Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An extensive meta-analysis of experimental work of framing. Kühberger makes the important argument that the impact of framing varies according to nine scope conditions that must be built into theoretical models.

    Find this resource:

  • Levin, Irwin P., Sandra L. Schneider, and Gary J. Gaeth. “All Frames Are Not Created Equal: A Typology and Critical Analysis of Framing Effects.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 76.2 (1998): 149–188.

    DOI: 10.1006/obhd.1998.2804Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Challenges the impact of framing effects and argues that different studies have employed different operational definitions of framing. They distinguish among the standard risky choice framing in prospect theory, attribute framing, which affects the evaluation of object or event characteristics, and goal framing, which affects the persuasiveness of a communication. A nice example of the importance of both motivational and cognitive concepts.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Prospect Theory and International Relations: Theoretical Applications and Analytical Problems.” Political Psychology 13.2 (1992): 283–310.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791682Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Levy examines the challenges of moving prospect theory outside the laboratory. One of the most important is defining the reference points that leaders making foreign policy decisions use. Theory about when leaders use the status quo or other reference points is undefined. Levy’s critique about an absence of a theory of framing is widely shared.

    Find this resource:

  • Nincic, Miroslav. “Loss Aversion and the Domestic Context of Military Intervention.” Political Research Quarterly 50.1 (1997): 97–120.

    DOI: 10.1177/106591299705000105Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The framing of military intervention matters to the generation of public support. Consistent with the expectations of prospect theory, proposals for military intervention framed within the domain of loss create greater public support for intervention policies.

    Find this resource:

  • Perla, Héctor, Jr. “Explaining Public Support for the Use of Military Force: The Impact of Reference Point Framing and Prospective Decision Making.” International Organization 65.1 (2011): 139–167.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818310000330Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Perla replicates the findings of Nincic 1997. An analysis of news coverage of foreign policy issues finds that loss frames elicits greater support from the public.

    Find this resource:

  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. “Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5.4 (1992): 297–323.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00122574Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A revised statement of prospect theory that sets scope conditions for overweighting and underweighting of probabilities and risk acceptance.

    Find this resource:

  • Wynter, Thomas. “Counterterrorism, Counterframing, and Perceptions of Terrorist (Ir)Rationality.” Journal of Global Security Studies 2.4 (2017): 364–376.

    DOI: 10.1093/jogss/ogx017Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Wynter focuses on the importance of the perception of the differences between public elite perceptions of the irrationality of the terrorist threat and strategic framing by academics. Using experimental counter framing, Wynter finds that exposure to strategic models significantly increases perceptions of terrorist rationality that in turn correlate with lower levels of support for military responses.

    Find this resource:

Risk

Prospect theory has been widely applied to the analysis of leaders’ foreign policy decisions under conditions of risk and uncertainty. McDermott 1998 offers an excellent review of the impact of framing and loss aversion on risk-taking in American foreign policy behavior over time. Fuhrmann and Early 2008 finds risk-acceptance in the domain of loss explains the willingness of the Bush administration to make unilateral cuts in its nuclear arms. Kowert and Hermann 1997 and Ehrlich and Maestas 2010 emphasize the heterogeneity among individuals with respect to loss aversion.

Loss Avoidance

Loss avoidance is among the most important predictions of prospect theory. People are much more sensitive to losses than they are to equivalent gains; the value function is concave in the region of gains but convex in the region of losses. The impact of loss aversion is amplified by systematic distortions in the weighting of probabilities as individuals tend to underweight low probabilities and overweight high probabilities. Farnham 1992, Jervis 1992, Levy 1996, McDermott 1992, Richardson 1992, and Taliaferro 2004 examine the impact of loss avoidance for foreign policy decisions. Berejikian and Early 2013 assesses loss aversion in trade disputes.

  • Berejikian, Jeffrey D., and Bryan R. Early. “Loss Aversion and Foreign Policy Resolve.” Political Psychology 34.5 (2013): 649–671.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12012Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Berejikian and Early collect data from one hundred cases of trade disputes initiated by the United States under Section 301 and find, as prospect theory expects, that American negotiators bargain harder in the domain of loss than they do when they are in the domain of gains.

    Find this resource:

  • Farnham, Barbara. “Roosevelt and the Munich Crisis: Insights from Prospect Theory.” Political Psychology 13.2 (1992): 205–235.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791679Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a major application of prospect theory to foreign policy decision-making, Farnham finds that loss aversion and risk acceptance explain Roosevelt’s change in behavior. As prospect theory expects, as his policy frame shifted to loss, the president became more willing to accept the risks of becoming involved in war.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert. “Political Implications of Loss Aversion.” Political Psychology 13.2 (1992): 187–204.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791678Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a wide-ranging assessment of the impact of loss aversion on state behavior, Jervis argues that loss aversion is likely to make concessions in international negotiation far more difficult as each side overvalues their own concessions and undervalues the concessions that the other side makes.

    Find this resource:

  • Levy, Jack S. “Loss Aversion, Framing, and Bargaining: The Implications of Prospect Theory for International Conflict.” International Political Science Review 17.2 (1996): 179–195.

    DOI: 10.1177/019251296017002004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In bilateral negotiations, both sides in a dispute will overvalue concessions given over those received. The result is “concession aversion,” which makes achieving a settlement more difficult than rational choice predicts.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose. “Prospect Theory in International Relations: The Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission.” Political Psychology 13.2 (1992): 237–263.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791680Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    McDermott demonstrates how domestic and foreign losses created a domain of loss for the Carter administration during the hostage crisis that shaped its foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Richardson, Louise. “Avoiding and Incurring Losses: Decision-Making in the Suez Crisis.” International Journal 47.2 (1992): 370–401.

    DOI: 10.2307/40202764Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Richardson demonstrates how British and American leaders were risk-acceptant during the Suez Crisis because they were in the domain of loss.

    Find this resource:

  • Taliaferro, Jeffrey W. “Power Politics and the Balance of Risk: Hypotheses on Great Power Intervention in the Periphery.” Political Psychology 25.2 (2004): 177–211.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00368.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Taliaferro finds that great power interventions in the periphery are risky decisions that are driven by leaders’ loss aversion to their relative power, status, or prestige. Risky behavior continues due to the bias of sunk costs. Taliaferro uses prospect theory and the literature on defensive realism to explain this anomalous foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

Affective Dimensions of Decision-Making

Across the biological sciences, scholars recognize the importance of emotions in shaping thinking, information processing, and choice. Those who use theories of emotion to explain foreign policy decisions and behavior tend to draw on “emotions,” or the broad cluster of affect that shape choice and behavior, or break emotions into discrete categories of emotions such as fear, anger, shame, the desire for revenge, and trust.

Emotions and Decision-Making

The cognitive revolution in psychology paid little explicit attention to the impact of emotion on choice and behavior. Two decades of research have established the primacy of emotion. The capacity to feel is now recognized as a prerequisite for reasoned judgment and behavior and at high levels of intensity as an impediment to rationality. Specific appraisal and action tendencies are associated with discrete emotions, such as fear, anger, and humiliation, and these tendencies shape judgment and choice in systematic ways. Crawford 2000 began the contemporary discussion of the importance of emotion in the study of international behavior. Mercer 2010 reshaped the concept of belief as an emotional as well as cognitive concept. Bleiker and Hutchison 2008 develops a model for the visualization of emotions, Holmes 2015 emphasizes pre-analytical intuitions, Mercer 2006 examines the relevance of emotion at all three levels of analysis, while Renshon, et al. 2017 does so at the individual level and Sasley 2011 at the state level. There is no unified theory of emotion: some scholars consider emotion as an embodied property at the individual level while others conceive of emotions as given meaning by culture and social practices. Markwica 2018 provides a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of emotion as a social construct and of the impact of individual emotions on state behavior.

Fear

The seminal work Thucydides 1954 explores the impact of fear of decline on the outbreak of war. Markwica 2018 defines fear as an “  . .  aversive emotion that comes about when people sense an immediate concrete physical or psychological threat and when they are uncertain whether they can cope with it” (p. 73). Fear generally interrupts ongoing cognitive activity and enables hypervigilance. As cognitive processes are disrupted, fearful people tend to rely on known processes and are less open to new ideas. Psychologists have traditionally distinguished three major action tendencies in response to fear: fight, flight, or freeze. The fear-flight response is often associated with a bias toward low-risk options, even if these options offer lower rewards. Here, appraisal-response theory may contradict the expectations of prospect theory that loss aversion creates risk-acceptancy. The impact of low expectations of a capacity to cope has not been explored as a discriminant between the two explanations. Fear is at the core of realist theories of state behavior and Booth and Wheeler 2008 examines its impact on the security dilemma. Druckman and McDermott 2008 assesses the impact of emotion on frames and policy choices and Ross 2014 examines collective emotion.

Anger

People typically become angry when they feel they are being compelled to do something they do not wish to do or that violates their normative beliefs or that they are being prevented or deterred from doing something they want to do or achieving a goal. Leaders become angry when they feel that an adversary is responsible for the offensive action and that the action was intentional and deliberate. In contradistinction to fear, anger usually increases a sense of agency by increasing the sense of control and also the willingness to take risk. Abrahms 2008 explores the emotional roots of terrorism, Fisk, et al. 2018 explores the impact of anger on support for drone strikes, Hall 2011 examines anger as an instrument of statecraft, McDermott 2014 explores the biological roots for aggression in presidents, and Hall 2017 explores the emotional impact of provocation.

Humiliation and Shame

Humiliation refers to the emotionally painful experience of being intentionally demeaned in ways that injures self-esteem and identity. It is closely related to the emotion of shame but is distinct in that it is usually perceived as being inflicted by others. Humiliation is no more difficult to measure than anger or fear but has been less systematically studied. It can evoke withdrawal and passivity or resistance, which is more likely if people feel that the humiliation is unjust and morally wrong. Barnhart 2017 looks at the relationship between humiliation and aggression. Saurette 2006 argues that a violent response by the United States was a response to the humiliating experience of being attacked at home. Steinberg 1996 uses a psychoanalytic lens to explore the impact of humiliation on presidential decision-making on Vietnam.

  • Barnhart, Joslyn. “Humiliation and Third-Party Aggression.” World Politics 69.3 (2017): 532–568.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0043887117000028Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Assaults on states’ self-conception of status in the international order predicts future territorial aggression. The humiliation of involuntary territorial loss precipitates compensatory expansionist policies toward a third party, exemplified by the French incursion into Tunisia a decade after a defeat by Prussia.

    Find this resource:

  • Saurette, Paul. “You Dissin Me? Humiliation and Post 9/11 Global Politics.” Review of International Studies 32.3 (2006): 495–522.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0260210506007133Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the role that the dynamics of humiliation and counter-humiliation play. Saurette develops a theoretical understanding of humiliation.

    Find this resource:

  • Steinberg, Blema S. Shame and Humiliation: Presidential Decision Making on Vietnam. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One of the few psychodynamic explanations of foreign policy decision-making. Steinberg explores the ways in which shame and humiliation are linked to issues of narcissism and how damage to self-esteem and the experience of narcissistic injury can affect an individual’s emotional responses. This approach is closely linked to the analysis of the impact of personality on foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

Revenge

The desire for revenge and its impact on foreign policy behavior have received less attention than fear, anger, and humiliation. Revenge typically goes beyond reciprocal retaliation to perceived acts of hostility. It is usually driven by anger or humiliation or both and is an affect-driven response to a sense of injury to identity or pride. Lebow 2010 reviews historical cases to identify two powerful emotional causes of war. Löwenheim and Heimann 2008 analyzes the identity and emotional drivers of revenge by states and Cox and Wood 2017 explores the dynamics of revenge in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

Trust

Mercer 2010 considers trust as an emotional belief. Rathbun 2012 examines the impact of trust on international cooperation and conceives of trust as both familiarity and a specific orientation toward a subject and, in his analysis, ties public emotional states to international outcomes. Druckman and Olekalns 2012 uses simulation to analyze the impact of trust, Larson 1997 examines the drivers of distrust, and Wheeler 2018 treats trust as prior to perception. Haukkala, et al. 2018 curates a collection of essays that compare rationalist, constructivist, and psychological approaches to trust.

  • Druckman, Daniel, and Mara Olekalns. “Motivational Primes, Trust, and Negotiators’ Reaction to a Crisis.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 57.6 (2012): 966–990.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022002712453707Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Using a simulated bilateral negotiation over several security issues, the authors show that affective trust amplifies the impact of dependence and transaction costs. The decision to reframe was made more often by negotiators who reported low affective trust, whereas the decision to reach immediate agreement was made more often by negotiators who reported high affective trust.

    Find this resource:

  • Haukkala, Hiski, Carina van de Wetering, and Johanna Vuorelma, eds. Trust in International Relations: Rationalist, Constructivist, and Psychological Approaches. Routledge Global Cooperation Series. New York: Routledge, 2018.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A collection of essays that explore three distinct ways of theorizing trust: trust as a rational choice calculation, as a social phenomenon, and as a psychological dimension and uses case studies in foreign policy to analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

    Find this resource:

  • Larson, Deborah Welch. “Trust and Missed Opportunities in International Relations.” Political Psychology 18.3 (1997): 701–734.

    DOI: 10.1111/0162-895X.00075Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    States fail to cooperate even when they have compatible preferences. Larson examines three alternative explanations of distrust—rational choice, domestic structures, and social psychology—and proposes incremental agreements to overcome distrust.

    Find this resource:

  • Mercer, Jonathan. “Emotional Beliefs.” International Organization 64.1 (2010): 1–31.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818309990221Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Mercer analyzes the impact of trust among other affect-laden beliefs on foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Rathbun, Brian C. Trust in International Cooperation: International Security Institutions, Domestic Politics and American Multilateralism. Cambridge Studies in International Relations 121. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Rathbun conceptualizes trust at the international level and links political debates within the United States to international outcomes.

    Find this resource:

  • Wheeler, Nicholas J. Trusting Enemies: Interpersonal Relationships in International Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199696475.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Wheeler develops a new theory of interpersonal trust that he applies at the international level. He treats trust as causally prior to the accurate interpretation of signals so when identity transformation occurs, and trust is present, the problem of ambiguity in signals disappears. These are large claims that are examined in three cases of USA-Soviet Union, India-Pakistan, and USA-Iran, but have yet to be tested across platforms.

    Find this resource:

Integrating Rational, Cognitive and Affective Dimensions of Decision-making

As research has cumulated, scholars have recognized that binary models that distinguish sharply between cognitive and affective explanations, or between psychological and rational models, are not well supported by the evidence. Verba 1961 provides a foundational analysis of the level of analysis problem. The contributors to Mintz 2002 integrate across cognitive and rational explanations in the theory of poliheuristic theory. Rathbun 2018 focuses on contingency and on stable individual level differences that reflect granular distinctions among types of decision-makers.

  • Mintz, Alex, ed. Integrating Cognitive and Rational Theories of Foreign Policy Decision Making. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A collection of essays that uses case studies of foreign policy decisions as well as experimental evidence to illustrate the strengths of poliheuristic theory that integrates cognitive and rationalist elements in its phased model and is applied across the individual, dyad, and group level. The collection is especially useful in its recognition of the importance of integrating across elements and across levels.

    Find this resource:

  • Rathbun, Brian C. Reasoning of State: Realists, Romantics and Rationality in International Relations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An important book that argues that decision-makers vary systematically in their rationality. Rathbun focuses on stable individual-level differences and judges rationality on process rather than on outcomes. Rathbun develops his argument through a rich historical analysis of Bismarck and Richelieu, two realists, and Churchill and Reagan, two romantics. An important step in integrating across theories.

    Find this resource:

  • Verba, Sidney. “Assumptions of Rationality and Non-Rationality in Models of the International System.” World Politics 14.1 (1961): 93–117.

    DOI: 10.2307/2009558Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early but important discussion of the importance of levels of analysis in models of foreign policy. Verba discusses when and where individual-level variables matter.

    Find this resource:

Collective Decision-Making

Collective decision-making is especially important in the analysis of foreign policy, where important decisions are often made by a group of senior leaders in a cabinet-like structure, or by a single leader surrounded by a group of close advisors. The two dynamics are very different but common to both are collective identities that shape thinking and choice, and group dynamics that push choice in ways that predictably differ from the sum of choices by individual members of the group.

Identity

Identity has long been a central explanatory factor in normative theories and constructive explanations of collective behavior. Social psychologists have developed robust theories of social identity to explain group behavior. Herrmann 2017 and Hymans 2006 use theories of collective identity to explain state behavior. Bayram 2017 examines the impact of a cosmopolitan identity on states’ international legal behavior. Hutchison 2016 explores the impact of trauma on collective identities, while the collected essays in Shain and Langenbacher 2010 examine the impact of collective memory on foreign policy formation. Theiler 2018 draws on social identity theory to assess the impact of conflict on popular support for foreign policy.

  • Bayram, A. Burcu. “Due Deference: Cosmopolitan Social Identity and the Psychology of Legal Obligation in International Politics.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S137–S163.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000485Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Bayram examines the importance of shared identities of cosmopolitanism to explain states’ commitment to principles of obligation to international law. An innovative use of survey and experimental data to trace the links between collective identity and foreign policy behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Herrmann, Richard K. “How Attachments to the Nation Shape Beliefs About the World: A Theory of Motivated Reasoning.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S61–S84.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000382Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A series of experiments embedded in a national survey of Americans finds that a primary driver of beliefs about international politics is how strongly people attach their social identity to the United States. The important finding is that beliefs are not independent of preferences.

    Find this resource:

  • Hutchison, Emma. Affective Communities in World Politics: Collective Emotions after Trauma. Cambridge Studies in International Relations 140. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781316154670Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Hutchison examines how “affective communities” are created by traumatic events. Representations make collective events meaningful by mobilizing socially embedded emotional meanings. A strong argument that emotions are central to the understanding of collective decision-making in world politics.

    Find this resource:

  • Hymans, Jacques E. C. The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511491412Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Consistent with Hermann’s argument, Hymans argues that emotions link beliefs about national identity to the foreign policy choice of whether or not to acquire nuclear weapons. Here too the emphasis is on shared emotions and collective identities.

    Find this resource:

  • Shain, Yossi, and Eric Langenbacher, eds. Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A series of essays by historians and international relations specialists on the impact of collective memory on foreign policy formation. The editors argue that the ways in which the memories of past events are interpreted, misinterpreted, or even manipulated in public discourse create the context that shapes foreign policy.

    Find this resource:

  • Theiler, Tobias. “The Microfoundations of Diversionary Conflict.” Security Studies 27.2 (2018): 318–343.

    DOI: 10.1080/09636412.2017.1386941Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Drawing on social identity theory (SIT) in social psychology, Theiler explains why conflict can increase popular support for leaders. Conflict with an out-group can make people identify more strongly with their in-group, and stronger in-group identification can lead to increased support for leaders inside the group.

    Find this resource:

Decision Dynamics in Groups and Organizations

Foreign policy decisions are not usually made by leaders acting alone, especially in states with democratic institutions. Even when leaders are the final decision-maker, they are advised by groups, and at times groups are the ultimate arbiter. Understanding group dynamics and their impact on foreign policy decisions is therefore central to the field. Janis 1982 did the foundational work on “group think,” which t’Hart, et al. 1997 modifies and broadens. Barr and Mintz 2018 and Mintz and Wayne 2016 explore alternative models of group decision-making while Saunders 2017 explores the impact of leaders’ experience on the way they manage their advisory groups. Hall and Ross 2015 examines affective dynamics at the collective level.

  • Barr, Kasey, and Alex Mintz. “Public Policy Perspective on Group Decision-Making Dynamics in Foreign Policy.” Policy Studies Journal 46.S1 (2018): S69–S90.

    DOI: 10.1111/psj.12249Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors review the leading models of group decision‐making dynamics and identify key stages of the policymaking cycle. They then link specific stages of the policy cycle to group decision‐making dynamics and illustrate their argument with an analysis of decision‐making dynamics within the Obama administration through policy stages of the campaign in 2016 against the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria.

    Find this resource:

  • Hall, Todd H., and Andrew A. G. Ross. “Affective Politics after 9/11.” International Organization 69.4 (2015): 847–879.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818315000144Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Hall and Ross explore affective dynamics first at the individual level and then develop a set of theoretical micro-foundations of collective-level affective dynamics and political strategies. They illustrate their argument by examining the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

    Find this resource:

  • t’Hart, Paul, Eric K. Stern, and Bengt Sundelius, eds. Beyond Groupthink: Political Group Dynamics and Foreign Policy-Making. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This collection of essays focuses on the role of small groups at the apex of the foreign policy decision-making process. It acknowledges Janis’s work on “groupthink” (Janis 1982) as contingent on political conditions and explores several other important group dynamics that are embedded in institutional and political contexts.

    Find this resource:

  • Janis, Irving Lester. Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. 2d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early study of the impact of group dynamics on foreign policy decision-making. Janis argued that emotional factors explain group think, driven by an individual’s need to belong to a group. Group members can be reluctant to challenge a group consensus for fear of exclusion. A large literature on “risky shifts” subsequently challenged and refined these arguments.

    Find this resource:

  • Mintz, Alex, and Carly Wayne. “The Polythink Syndrome and Elite Group Decision-Making.” Advances in Political Psychology 37.S1 (2016): 3–21.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12319Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces Polythink, a dynamic in groups with low cohesion and a surfeit of opinion that can lead to powerful framing effects, paralysis, fragmentation, and lowest-common denominator decisions. The disunity of Polythink is contrasted with the conformity of groupthink, but both yield sub-optimal policy unless decision-making is balanced and structured.

    Find this resource:

  • Saunders, Elizabeth N. “No Substitute for Experience: Presidents, Advisers, and Information in Group Decision Making.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S219–S247.

    DOI: 10.1017/S002081831600045XSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Using case studies, Saunders addresses the aggregation problem by exploring how the balance of foreign policy experience among leaders and advisers affects decision-making in war, through a principal-agent framework that allows the relative experience of leaders and advisers to vary.

    Find this resource:

State Behavior

This section examines a range of psychological explanations on different dimensions of state behavior to illustrate the scope of psychological explanations within the broader field of foreign policy analysis. These four dimensions are necessarily selective, since the application of psychological models across the field of foreign policy analysis and more broadly to international behavior is now vast.

Diplomacy

The analysis of diplomacy as state behavior is among the most venerable within the history of international relations. Psychological explanations are now bringing fresh perspectives. Hall 2015 explores the instrumentalization of emotion as a diplomatic strategy while Holmes 2013 provides the evidence for leaders’ preference for face-to-face diplomacy. Holmes and Yarhi-Milo 2017 examines the impact of empathy on peace negotiations and Markwica 2018 provides an integrated analysis of the impact of five emotions on coercive diplomacy.

  • Hall, Todd H. Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453014.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Hall explores the politics of officially expressed emotion, analyzing the ways in which state actors strategically deploy emotional behavior to shape the perceptions of others and to achieve political outcomes that traditional instruments of statecraft would have difficulty achieving. A counter-intuitive examination of the instrumentalization of emotion to achieve foreign policy goals.

    Find this resource:

  • Holmes, Marcus. “The Force of Face-to-Face Diplomacy: Mirror Neurons and the Problem of Intentions.” International Organization 67.4 (2013): 829–861.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818313000234Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    See also his Face-to-Face Diplomacy: Social Neuroscience and International Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018). Holmes argues that face-to-face diplomacy provides a signaling mechanism that increases the likelihood of cooperation, by allowing individuals to transmit information and empathize with each other, even when they have strong incentives to distrust the other. An interesting application of neuroscience to explain diplomatic behavior.

    Find this resource:

  • Holmes, Marcus, and Keren Yarhi-Milo. “The Psychological Logic of Peace Summits: How Empathy Shapes Outcomes of Diplomatic Negotiations.” International Studies Quarterly 61.1 (2017): 107–122.

    DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqw034Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors argue that empathy, the ability to understand the cognitive and affective states of others, is important in mitigating biases and increasing the likelihood of cooperation in peace summits.

    Find this resource:

  • Markwica, Robin. Emotional Choices: How the Logic of Affect Shapes Coercive Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794349.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An important attempt to develop the logic of affect, or emotional choice theory, to explain the outcomes of coercive diplomacy. The logic of affect builds on five key emotions—fear, anger, hope, pride, and humiliation—but goes beyond psychology to link these emotions to the dynamic interplay among norms and identities to explain foreign policy outcomes.

    Find this resource:

Deterrence

Jervis, et al. 1985 was one of the earliest to use psychological concepts to explain deterrence. Berejikian 2002 and Schaub 2004 apply prospect theory to explain deterrence and compellence outcomes. There is now a rich psychological literature that uses cognitive and affective models to explain outcomes that are counter-intuitive in rationalist accounts.

  • Berejikian, Jeffrey D. “A Cognitive Theory of Deterrence.” Journal of Peace Research 39.2 (2002): 165–183.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022343302039002002Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Using prospect theory, the article reconsiders three typical deterrence games. The new model of military deterrence identifies a set of conditions that are required for successful deterrence and uncovers causes of deterrence failures that run counter to rationalist accounts.

    Find this resource:

  • Jervis, Robert, Richard Ned Lebow, and Janice Gross Stein. Psychology and Deterrence. Perspectives on Security. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An early collection of essays that used cognitive and emotional concepts to challenge rational accounts of deterrence and explained failures of deterrence that were anomalous, given the expectation of rational deterrence theories.

    Find this resource:

  • Schaub, Gary. “Deterrence, Compellence, and Prospect Theory.” Political Psychology 25.3 (2004): 389–411.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00377.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Using prospect theory, experimental findings suggest that deterrence is “easier” than compellence, but this relationship is variable. Deterrence requires less effort than expected, and the relative effort it requires decreases substantially as the stakes demanded and costs threatened grow. Compellence requires more effort than expected, and the relative effort it requires decreases slightly as the stakes demanded and costs threatened grow.

    Find this resource:

Military Intervention

Military intervention and its outcomes have traditionally been explained by realists who emphasize both offensive or defensive intentions and relative capabilities. Clément, et al. 2016 uses affective explanations to explain how leaders build support for military intervention abroad and Dolan 2016 explains how emotions lead to preferences change over time. Kertzer 2017 examines resolve as contingent, a function of individual heterogeneity. Horowitz and Stam 2014 examines the impact of leaders’ backgrounds on their use of force and McDermott and Kugler 2001 compares rational choice and prospect theory as explanations of US intervention against Iraq in 2001. Saunders 2009 and Saunders 2011 explore the impact of inward- versus outward-facing leaders on their propensity to use force to intervene.

  • Clément, Maéva, Thomas Lindemann, and Eric Sangar. “The ‘Hero-Protector Narrative’: Manufacturing Emotional Consent for the Use of Force.” Political Psychology 38.6 (2016): 991–1008.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12385Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors develop the concept of the “hero‐protector narrative” to analyze how political leaders try to manufacture specific collective emotions to encourage their audience to perceive violence as the only morally acceptable course of action. An interesting refutation of culture as an important contributing explanation.

    Find this resource:

  • Dolan, Thomas M. “Go Big or Go Home? Positive Emotions and Responses to Wartime Success.” International Studies Quarterly 60.2 (2016): 230–242.

    DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqv021Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that emotional responses, particularly contentment and joy, help to explain leaders’ preferences for changing or maintaining their approach to war. Joy makes change more likely because it diminishes awareness of risk. Contentment, elicited by expected good news, tends to produce resistance to change.

    Find this resource:

  • Horowitz, Michael C., and Allan C. Stam. “How Prior Military Experience Influences the Future Militarized Behavior of Leaders.” International Organization 68.3 (2014): 527–559.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818314000046Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    International relations research focuses on how political institutions rather than leaders’ personal attributes shape policy choices. The authors focus on leaders and their personal backgrounds. They analyze a large data base and show that the leaders most likely to initiate militarized disputes and wars are those with prior military service but no combat experience.

    Find this resource:

  • Kertzer, Joshua D. “Resolve, Time, and Risk.” International Organization 71.S1 (2017): S109–S136.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0020818316000424Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Kertzer develops a behavioral theory of resolve, suggesting that variation in time and risk preferences can help explain why some actors display more resolve than others and demonstrates through experimental data that certain types of costs of war loom larger for certain types of actors.

    Find this resource:

  • McDermott, Rose, and Jacek Kugler. “Comparing Rational Choice and Prospect Theory Analyses: The US Decision to Launch Operation ‘Desert Storm’, January 1991.” Journal of Strategic Studies 24.3 (2001): 49–85.

    DOI: 10.1080/01402390108437845Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article compares an expected utility rational actor model of decision-making with prospect theory through analysis of the United States’ decision to launch Operation Desert Storm in January 1991.

    Find this resource:

  • Saunders, Elizabeth N. “Transformative Choices: Leaders and the Origins of Intervention Strategy.” International Security 34.2 (2009): 119–161.

    DOI: 10.1162/isec.2009.34.2.119Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Saunders asks what role executive leadership plays in influencing the choice of intervention strategy. She develops a typology of political leaders based on whether they believe that the internal characteristics of other states are the ultimate source of threats. She concludes that these threat perceptions shape the cost-benefit calculation leaders make when they confront intervention decisions and have important consequences for how states intervene.

    Find this resource:

  • Saunders, Elizabeth N. Leaders at War: How Presidents Shape Military Interventions. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449222.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The book explains both when and how leaders use force to intervene in other states. Saunders finds that externally focused leaders perceive the external behavior of others as the source of threat, but internally focused leaders identify the domestic institutional arrangements of a state as the source of its threatening foreign behavior and intervene to change these domestic arrangements.

    Find this resource:

Bargaining and Reciprocity

Bargaining and reciprocity have been modeled by game theorists who recently have begun to incorporate psychological dimensions in their models. De Dreu and Carnevale 2003 analyzes the impact of epistemic and social motivation through bargaining experiments. Kanner 2004 uses prospect theory to examine the impact of frames and risk propensity on bargaining strategies. Kertzer and Rathbun 2015 examines how proself and prosocial orientations affect bargaining and reciprocity.

  • De Dreu, Carsten K. W, and Peter J. Carnevale. “Motivational Bases of Information Processing and Strategy in Conflict and Negotiation.” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 35 (2003): 235–291.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2601(03)01004-9Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors develop a model of information processing from the analysis of social motivation and epistemic motivation in bargaining experiments. Integrative agreements are achieved more consistently by prosocial thinkers with high social and epistemic motivation.

    Find this resource:

  • Kanner, Michael D. “Framing and the Role of the Second Actor: An Application of Prospect Theory to Bargaining.” Political Psychology 25.2 (2004): 213–239.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9221.2004.00369.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An actor’s frame of reference significantly affects that actor’s risk attitude. Kanner argues that the frame of reference is the result of an actor’s assumptions and beliefs, which can be manipulated by a second actor in a bargaining situation.

    Find this resource:

  • Kertzer, Joshua D., and Brian C. Rathbun. “Fair Is Fair: Social Preferences and Reciprocity in International Politics.” World Politics 67.4 (2015): 613–655.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0043887115000180Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors show that preferences vary across actors, with some displaying more prosocial value orientations than others. That prosocials are less inclined to exploit their bargaining leverage than proselfs helps to explain why some pairs of actors are better able to avoid bargaining failure than others.

    Find this resource:

New Directions in Research in Psychology and Foreign Policy

The exponential increase in psychological research and foreign policy analysis has generated a robust discussion of new directions for research. Particularly important is “bridging the gap,” across artificial divisions within psychology, across divisions between psychology and political science, and across neuroscience, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and the humanities. Kertzer 2016; Kertzer and Tingley 2018; Lopez, et al. 2011; Markwica 2018; and Rathbun 2018, each in their own distinct way, suggest how that can be accomplished.

  • Kertzer, Joshua D. Resolve in International Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400883646Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Resolve has been a fundamental part of rationalist accounts of deterrence and war. Kertzer explores the micro-foundations of resolve and develops a behavioral theory that suggests that variation in time and risk preferences, honor orientation, and self-control shape how leaders respond to the situations they face. An important attempt to develop theory across boundaries and to test it through multiple methods.

    Find this resource:

  • Kertzer, Joshua D., and Dustin Tingley. “Political Psychology in International Relations: Beyond the Paradigms.” Annual Review of Political Science 21 (2018): 319–339.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-polisci-041916-020042Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In their review of the current state of the field, the authors emphasize an increased interest in emotions and hot cognition, the rise of more psychologically informed work on public opinion and its impact on foreign policy, and the rise of neurobiological and evolutionary approaches. They call for better integration of the study of mass and elite political behavior and more psychological work in international political economy.

    Find this resource:

  • Lopez, Anthony C., Rose McDermott, and Michael Bang Petersen. “States in Mind: Evolution, Coalitional Psychology, and International Politics.” International Security 36.2 (2011): 48–83.

    DOI: 10.1162/ISEC_a_00056Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors suggest that an evolutionary psychological framework can help to explain how political groups such as states are perceived and represented by individuals and groups; how coalitional action is facilitated among states; and sex differences in coalitional behavior. The authors develop the psychological mechanisms that bridge between evolutionary theory and political behavior in the international system.

    Find this resource:

  • Markwica, Robin. Emotional Choices: How the Logic of Affect Shapes Coercive Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794349.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Markwica bridges neuroscience, cognitive science, social identity theory, and normative theory in an attempt to build a logic of affect to explain foreign policy behavior. A major contribution to the field. Even when he does not meet his ambitious goals, his work points to important new directions in research.

    Find this resource:

  • Rathbun, Brian C. Reasoning of State. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

    Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Rathbun focuses on contingency and variability across decision-makers. To explain their behavior, he reaches beyond the social sciences to the humanities to explore romanticism and more intuitive thinkers who pay less attention to evidence. Rathbun focuses on stable individual-level differences and judges rationality on process rather than on outcomes. An important step in integrating across theories.

    Find this resource:

back to top

Article

Up

Down