With a new preface by the authorSince its original publication in 1976, Perception and Misperception in International Politics has become a landmark book in its field, hailed by the New York Times as "the seminal statement of principles underlying political psychology." This new edition includes an extensive preface by the author reflecting on the book's lasting impact and legacy, particularly in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making, and brings that analysis up to date by discussing the relevant psychological research over the past forty years. Jervis describes the process of perception (for example, how decision makers learn from history) and then explores common forms of misperception (such as overestimating one's influence). He then tests his ideas through a number of important events in international relations from nineteenth- and twentieth-century European history. Perception and Misperception in International Politics is essential for understanding international relations today.
This study of perception and misperception in foreign policy was a landmark in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making. The New York Times called it, in an article published nearly ten years after the book's appearance, "the seminal statement of principles underlying political psychology." The perspective established by Jervis remains an important counterpoint to structural explanations of international politics, and from it has developed a large literature on the psychology of leaders and the problems of decision making under conditions of incomplete information, stress, and cognitive bias. Jervis begins by describing the process of perception (for example, how decision makers learn from history) and then explores common forms of misperception (such as overestimating one's influence). Finally, he tests his ideas through a number of important events in international relations from nineteenth- and twentieth-century European history. In a contemporary application of Jervis's ideas, some argue that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 in part because he misread the signals of American leaders with regard to the independence of Kuwait. Also, leaders of the United States and Iraq in the run-up to the most recent Gulf War might have been operating under cognitive biases that made them value certain kinds of information more than others, whether or not the information was true. Jervis proved that, once a leader believed something, that perception would influence the way the leader perceived all other relevant information.
Robert Jervis has been a pioneering leader in the study of the psychology of international politics for more than four decades. How Statesmen Think presents his most important ideas on the subject from across his career. This collection of revised and updated essays applies, elaborates, and modifies his pathbreaking work. The result is an indispensable book for students and scholars of international relations. How Statesmen Think demonstrates that expectations and political and psychological needs are the major drivers of perceptions in international politics, as well as in other arenas. Drawing on the increasing attention psychology is paying to emotions, the book discusses how emotional needs help structure beliefs. It also shows how decision-makers use multiple shortcuts to seek and process information when making foreign policy and national security judgments. For example, the desire to conserve cognitive resources can cause decision-makers to look at misleading indicators of military strength, and psychological pressures can lead them to run particularly high risks. The book also looks at how deterrent threats and counterpart promises often fail because they are misperceived. How Statesmen Think examines how these processes play out in many situations that arise in foreign and security policy, including the threat of inadvertent war, the development of domino beliefs, the formation and role of national identities, and conflicts between intelligence organizations and policymakers.
Based on more than three decades of observation, Robert Jervis concludes in this provocative book that the very foundations of many social science theories--especially those in political science--are faulty. Taking insights from complexity theory as his point of departure, the author observes that we live in a world where things are interconnected, where unintended consequences of our actions are unavoidable and unpredictable, and where the total effect of behavior is not equal to the sum of individual actions. Jervis draws on a wide range of human endeavors to illustrate the nature of these system effects. He shows how increasing airport security might actually cost lives, not save them, and how removing dead trees (ostensibly to give living trees more room) may damage the health of an entire forest. Similarly, he highlights the interconnectedness of the political world as he describes how the Cold War played out and as he narrates the series of events--with their unintended consequences--that escalated into World War I. The ramifications of developing a rigorous understanding of politics are immense, as Jervis demonstrates in his critique of current systemic theories of international politics--especially the influential work done by Kenneth Waltz. Jervis goes on to examine various types of negative and positive feedback, bargaining in different types of relationships, and the polarizing effects of alignments to begin building a foundation for a more realistic, more nuanced, theory of international politics. System Effects concludes by examining what it means to act in a system. It shows how political actors might modify their behavior in anticipation of system effects, and it explores how systemic theories of political behavior might account for the role of anticipation and strategy in political action. This work introduces powerful new concepts that will reward not only international relations theorists, but also all social scientists with interests in comparative politics and political theory.
Now available in paperback, Psychology and Deterrence reveals deterrence strategy's hidden and generally simplistic assumptions about the nature of power and aggression, threat and response, and calculation and behavior in the international arena.
This book discerns Soviet leaders' views of the United States and sees them in relation to foreign policy statements and actions. Hermann first examines the subtle problem of analyzing perceptions and interpreting motives from the words and deeds of national leaders. He then turns to cases, measuring the dominant U.S. hypotheses about the USSR against Soviet behavior in Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, as well as Soviet participation in the arms race. Finally, he weighs his conclusions against a thematic study of speeches and publications by members of the Politburo.
Are good and bad outcomes significantly affected by the decision-making process itself? Indeed they are, in that certain decision-making techniques and practices limit the ability of policymakers to achieve their goals and advance the national interest. The success of policy often turns on the quality of the decision-making process. Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow identify the factors that contribute to good and bad policymaking, such as the personalities of political leaders, the structure of decision-making groups, and the nature of the exchange between participating individuals. Analyzing thirty-nine foreign-policy cases across nine administrations and incorporating both statistical analyses and case studies, including a detailed examination of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the authors pinpoint the factors that are likely to lead to successful or failed decision making, and they suggest ways to improve the process. Schafer and Crichlow show how the staffing of key offices and the structure of central decision-making bodies determine the path of an administration even before topics are introduced. Additionally, they link the psychological characteristics of leaders to the quality of their decision processing. There is no greater work available on understanding and improving the dynamics of contemporary decision making.