INTL 8205 Foreign Policy Decision Making

INTL 8205 Spring 2019
Decision Making in International Relations
Jeffrey D. Berejikian


Whatever one’s theoretical orientation, foreign policy outcomes are the direct result of human choices. Ultimately, it is individuals who act. The governing model of decision making currently deployed in international relations, whether implicit or explicit, comes to us from economics. Here, states, elites, leaders, and domestic pressure groups are assumed to be substantively and procedurally rational, and theories concerning state behavior begin from this premise.

However, across the social sciences, we are in the process of a profound break with the past. The empirical study of human decision making in the fields of cognitive psychology, behavioral economics and neuroscience have produced valuable insights into human decision making. Most importantly, deviations from classical rationality are now understood to be predictable and stable aspects of human choice. Foreign policy decisions should, therefore, be pattered and explainable even when they are not strictly rational.

For the subfield of international relations, critical questions emerge: Which psychological models of decision making are most appropriate and useful in the study of foreign policy? How do we incorporate cognitive models into our theoretical frameworks? When we use cognitive models what, if anything, do we learn about foreign policy that we didn’t already know?

Our goal in this seminar is to examine these questions and attempt to anchor the study of foreign policy to the reality of human decision making. We will survey explore strategies for integrating cognitive insights into foreign policy analysis.
Assignments and Grading:

Weekly Summaries – Weekly summaries are due at the beginning of each class. These summaries provide a brief (500-word maximum) overview of each of the assigned readings. The model for these assignments is akin to an annotated bibliography. Essays will account for 20% of your grade.

For guidance see:
Review Essays – You will write (3) analytical essays on the class readings (1,500-2,000 words). These essays are to be synthetic and critical. The model for these assignments is akin to a literature review but will focus on the readings in our seminar. Details for the assignments will be distributed in class. Essays will account for 20% of your grade.

For guidance see: Knopf, Jeffrey W. “Doing a literature review.” PS: Political Science & Politics 39, no. 1 (2006): 127-132.

Seminar Presentation – Each student will be responsible for summarizing and evaluating the readings, and for leading the seminar discussion. 5%

Research Presentations – Each student will present the results of their research to the class. Also, throughout the course, you will be asked to update the class on your progress. These updates will serve as a primary source of feedback and constructive criticism on your project (written work submitted in advance). 5%

Participation – Your active participation is necessary for a successful seminar. I will assign a grade based on the quality of your involvement that will account for 15% of your grade. The participation grade has two components. The first requires consistent engagement in class discussions regarding the material, the second pertains the quality of your constructive comments about each student’s research.

Research Design – This project is a typical research design in most respects. It must include a clear problem statement derived from the relevant literature, a concise theoretical argument, testable explicit hypotheses, and a plan for variable operationalization. Substantively, the paper must focus on some aspect of foreign policy (broadly defined) in a way that explicitly incorporates a decision making component, including an explicit theory about decision making anchored to the relevant literature and an explanation of how the decision(s) you examine are connected – even if indirectly – to foreign policy outcomes. Successful projects are those that are ready for empirical testing. The research proposal will account for 35% of your grade.

Course Schedule:
All readings are available on-line, unless otherwise indicated.

Jan 15. Introduction to class, and to rationality


Jan 22. Foundations: Decisions in IR?

Valerie Hudson. “Foreign Policy Analysis: Actor Specific Theory and the Ground of International Relations” Foreign Policy Analysis (2005):1-30

Stein, Janice Gross. “The micro-foundations of international relations theory: Psychology and behavioral economics.” International Organization 71, no. S1 (2017): S249-S263.

Jacobi, Daniel, and Annette Freyberg‐Inan. “The forum: Human being (s) in International Relations.” International Studies Review 14, no. 4 (2012): 645-665.

Putnam, Robert D. “Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games.” International organization 42, no. 3 (1988): 427-460.


Jan 29. Early Cognitive Approaches
Michael Shapiro, Matthew Bonham (1973) “Cognitive Processes and Foreign Policy Decision Making” International Studies Quarterly 17:2 147-174

Suedfeld, Peter, and Philip Tetlock. “Integrative complexity of communications in international crises.” Journal of conflict resolution 21.1 (1977): 169-184.

Levinson, Daniel J. “Authoritarian personality and foreign policy.” Conflict Resolution (1957): 37-47.

Holsti, Kalevi J. “National role conceptions in the study of foreign policy.” International Studies Quarterly (1970): 233-309.
Feb 5. Personality/Operational Code
Schafer, Mark. “Issues in assessing psychological characteristics at a distance: An introduction to the symposium.” Political Psychology 21.3 (2000): 511-527.

Gallagher, Maryann E., and Susan H. Allen. “Presidential personality: Not just a nuisance.” Foreign Policy Analysis 10.1 (2014): 1-21.

Macdonald, Julia, and Jacquelyn Schneider. “Presidential Risk Orientation and Force Employment Decisions The Case of Unmanned Weaponry.” Journal of Conflict Resolution (2015)

• McDermott, Rose, and Peter K. Hatemi. “The relationship between physical aggression, foreign policy and moral choices: Phenotypic and genetic findings.” Aggressive behavior 43, no. 1 (2017): 37-46.

For conceptual foundations see
• Herrmann, Richard K., et al. “Images in international relations: An experimental test of cognitive schemata.” International Studies Quarterly 41.3 (1997): 403-433.
• Hermann, M. G. (1980). “Explaining foreign policy behavior using the personal characteristics of political leaders”. International Studies Quarterly, 24, 7–46.
• Beliefs and leadership in world politics: Methods and applications of operational code analysis, eds. Mark Schafer and Stephen G. Walker (2006): 25-53.


Feb 12. Evolutionary Psychology

Critical Essay Due: Evaluate the degree to which the previous readings accomplish the aspirations of set out in the behavioral IR approach? Where do they fall short? How can these shortcomings be addressed, if at all?

Alford, John R., and John R. Hibbing. 2004. “The Origin of Politics: An Evolutionary Theory of Political Behavior.” Perspectives on Politics 2 (4).

Shaw, R. Paul, and Yuwa Wong. 1987. “Ethnic Mobilization and the Seeds of Warfare: An Evolutionary Perspective.” International Studies Quarterly 31 (1): 5-31.

Thayer, Bradley A. 2007. “Thinking about Nuclear Deterrence Theory: Why Evolutionary Psychology Undermines Its Rational Actor Assumptions.” Comparative Strategy 26 (4): 311-323.

Kanazawa, Satoshi. 2009. “Evolutionary Psychological Foundations of Civil Wars.” Journal of Politics 71 (1): 25-34.

Supplement: Additional overviews
• Thayer, Bradley A. 2000. “Bringing in Darwin: Evolutionary Theory, Realism, and International Politics.” International Security 25 (2): 124-51.
• Cosmides, Leda, and John Tooby. 1994. “Evolutionary Psychology and the Invisible Hand.” American Economic Review 84 (2): 327-332.


Feb 19. Loss Aversion
Robert Jervis, “The Political Implications of Loss Aversion” 1992 Political Psychology 13:2

Levy, Jack S. “Loss aversion, framing, and bargaining: The implications of prospect theory for international conflict.” International Political Science Review 17, no. 2 (1996): 179-195.

Berejikian, Jeffrey D., and Bryan R. Early. “Loss aversion and foreign policy resolve.” Political Psychology 34.5 (2013): 649-671.

Nincic, Miroslav. “Loss aversion and the domestic context of military intervention.” Political Research Quarterly 50.1 (1997): 97-120.

Supplement: Micro Foundations
• Tom, Sabrina M., et al. “The neural basis of loss aversion in decision-making under risk.” Science 315.5811 (2007): 515-518.
• De Martino, Benedetto, Colin F. Camerer, and Ralph Adolphs. “Amygdala damage eliminates monetary loss aversion.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.8 (2010): 3788-3792.
• Rick, Scott. “Losses, gains, and brains: Neuroeconomics can help to answer open questions about loss aversion.” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21: 453-463 2011.


Feb 26. Prospect Theory, Framing and Risk

Vis, Barbara, and Dieuwertje Kuijpers. “Prospect theory and foreign policy decision-making: Underexposed issues, advancements, and ways forward.” Contemporary Security Policy 39, no. 4 (2018): 575-589.

Taliaferro, Jeffrey W. “Quagmires in the periphery: Foreign wars and escalating commitment in international conflict.” Security Studies 7.3 (1998): 94-144.

Berejikian, Jeffrey D. “A cognitive theory of deterrence.” journal of peace research 39.2 (2002): 165-183.

Kowert, Paul A., and Margaret G. Hermann. “Who takes risks? Daring and caution in foreign policy making.” Journal of conflict Resolution 41, no. 5 (1997): 611-637.

Linde, Jona, and Barbara Vis. “Do politicians take risks like the rest of us? An experimental test of prospect theory under MPs.” Political Psychology 38, no. 1 (2017): 101-117.

For background see:
• Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky. “Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk.” Econometrica: Journal of the econometric society (1979): 263-291.
• Quattrone, George A., and Amos Tversky. “Contrasting rational and psychological analyses of political choice.” The American political science review (1988): 719-736.

For an early overview see:
• McDermott, R. (2004). Prospect theory in political science: Gains and losses from the first decade. Political Psychology, 25(2), 289–312.

Micro Foundations:
• Trepel, Christopher, Craig R. Fox, and Russell A. Poldrack. “Prospect theory on the brain? Toward a cognitive neuroscience of decision under risk.” Cognitive Brain Research 23.1 (2005): 34-50.
• De Martino, Benedetto, et al. “The neurobiology of reference-dependent value computation.” The Journal of Neuroscience 29.12 (2009): 3833-3842.


March 5. Status
(Chun Young)
Wohlforth, William C. “Unipolarity, status competition, and great power war.” World politics 61.01 (2009): 28-57.

Larson, Deborah Welch, and Alexei Shevchenko. “Status seekers: Chinese and Russian responses to US primacy.” International Security 34.4 (2010): 63-95.

Wohlforth, William C., Benjamin de Carvalho, Halvard Leira, and Iver B. Neumann. “Moral authority and status in International Relations: Good states and the social dimension of status seeking.” Review of International Studies 44, no. 3 (2018): 526-546.

Jakobsen, Peter Viggo, Jens Ringsmose, and Håkon Lunde Saxi. “Prestige-seeking small states: Danish and Norwegian military contributions to US-led operations.” European Journal of International Security 3, no. 2 (2018): 256-277.

Supplement: Micro Foundations:
• Ruff, Christian C., and Ernst Fehr. “The neurobiology of rewards and values in social decision making.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 15.8 (2014): 549-562.
• Levy, Dino J., and Paul W. Glimcher. “The root of all value: a neural common currency for choice.” Current opinion in neurobiology 22.6 (2012): 1027-1038.
• Rebecca Saxe, Johannes Haushofer “For Love or Money: A Common Neural Currency for Social and Monetary Reward” Neuron, Volume 58, Issue 2, 24 April 2008, Pages 164-165)


** March 12: Spring Break **


Mar. 19 Group Identity

Critical Essay Due: (Open topic. Make an argument)

Mummendey, Amelie, Andreas Klink, and Rupert Brown. “Nationalism and patriotism: National identification and out‐group rejection.” British Journal of Social Psychology 40, no. 2 (2001): 159-172.

Seul, Jeffrey R. “Ours is the way of god’: Religion, identity, and intergroup conflict.” Journal of peace research 36, no. 5 (1999): 553-569.

George Marcus at al. “Linking Neuroscience to Political Intolerance and Threat” Politics and the Life Sciences. V.17 n.2 1998

Lee, Yueh-Ting, and Victor Ottati. “Attitudes toward US immigration policy: The roles of in-group-out-group bias, economic concern, and obedience to law.” The Journal of Social Psychology 142, no. 5 (2002): 617-634.

Supplement: Micro foundations
• Emile Bruneau and Rebecca Saxe “Attitudes Toward the Outgroup are Predicted by Activity in the Precuneus in Arabs and Israelis” Neuroimage v.52 n4 2010
• Grit Hein, et al. “Neural Responses to Ingroup and Outgroup Members’ Suffering Predict Individual Differences in Costly Helping” Neuron v.68 n.1 2010
• Cikara, Mina, Matthew M. Botvinick, and Susan T. Fiske. “Us versus them social identity shapes neural responses to intergroup competition and harm.” Psychological science (2011).

• Belle Derks and Michael Inzlicht “The Neuroscience of Stigma and Stereotype Threat” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations v.11 n.2 2008
• Elizabeth Phelps and Laura Thomas. “Race, Behavior and the Brain: The Role of Neuroimaging in Understanding Complex Social Behaviors” Political Psychology v.24 n.4 2003


March 26. Research Design Workshop


April 2: Trust

Draft research topic and literature review due.

Circulate to class by March 24, 6 pm.

Aaron Hoffman. “A Conceptualization of Trust in International Relations” European Journal of International Relations v.8 n.3 2002

Ruzicka, Jan, and Nicholas J. Wheeler. “The puzzle of trusting relationships in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” International Affairs 86, no. 1 (2010): 69-85.

•Justwan, Florian. “Trusting Publics: Generalized Social Trust and the Decision to Pursue Binding Conflict Management.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 61, no. 3 (2017): 590-614.

Justwan, Florian, and Sarah K. Fisher. “Generalized Social Trust and International Dispute Settlement.” International Interactions 43, no. 5 (2017): 717-743.
Supplement: Micro Foundations
• Brooks Kind-Casas, et al. “Getting to Know You: Reputation and Trust in a Two-person Economic Exchange” Science, Vol.308 N.5718 2005
• Jian Li, et al. “Neural responses to sanction threats in two-party economic exchange” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 29 September 2009: 16835-16840.
• Frank Krueger, Kevin McCabe, Jorge Moll, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, Roland Zahn, Maren Strenziok, Armin Heinecke, Jordan Grafman . Neural correlates of trust. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Volume 104, Number 50 (December 2007), pp. 20084-20089
• Paul Zak et al “The Neruoeconomics of Distrust: Sex Differences in behavior and Physiology” The American Economic Review v.95 n.2 2005


April 9: Class Decides!
(Hongyi Charisma/Persuasion)

House, R.J., Spangler, W.D. and Woycke, J., 1990, August. Personality and charisma in the US presidency: A psychological theory of leadership effectiveness. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 1990, No. 1, pp. 216-220). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Schjoedt, Uffe, et al. “The Power of Charisma; Perceived Charisma Inhibits the Frontal Executive Network of Believers of Intercessory Prayer” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. V.6 n.1 2011

Vasily Klucharev “Brain mechanisms of persuasion: how ‘expert power’ modulates memory and attitudes” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience v.3 n.4 2009

Emily Falk at al “Predicting Persuasion-Induced Behavior Change in the Brain” The Journal of Neuroscience v.30 n.25 2010

George Marcus “The Emotional Foundation of Political Cognition” The Impact of Anxiety on the Formation of Political Tolerance Judgments” Political Psychology v.26 n.6 2005


April 16. How Do Experiments Help Us?

Critical Essay Due:

Hyde, Susan D. “Experiments in international relations: lab, survey, and field.” Annual Review of Political Science 18 (2015): 403-424.

Kertzer, Joshua D., and Dustin Tingley. “Political psychology in international relations: beyond the paradigms.” Annual Review of Political Science 21 (2018): 319-339.

Druckman, James N., et al., eds. Cambridge handbook of experimental political science. Cambridge University Press, 2011. Especially chapters 2 & 3


April 23:
Research Presentations (A)
Draft submitted to class by 10 am April 21.
Detailed audience written comments submitted to presenters in class (cc instructor)


April 30
Research Presentations (B)
Draft submitted to class by 10 am April 28.
Detailed audience written comments submitted to presenters in class (cc instructor)


Final project due May7, 12:00 pm.