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Lecture 6

lecture 6 blackboard reading notes

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Political Science
Todd Hall

POL208 – Reading Notes (BB) Lecture 6 Psychology and International Relations Theory • Introduction o How developments in psych can inform second & third-level arguments about interstate pol o Cognitive Bias and Error o Prospect Theory o Theories of Procedural and Distributive Justice o Theories of Cross-Cultural Psychology • Realism o Waltz’s framework predicts a general tendency for states to make rational, security-maximizing decisions are they’re socializing into the int’l system o For Mearsheimer, states are under even greater pressure to form accurate representations of the world and respond to the actions of other powers in a timely manner o Prospect theory posits that under certain conditions, decision makers should be especially willing to take riskier courses of action than would be justified based on calculations of their expected final asset position, ad these are conditions are as follows:  Have not made psychological peace w/ their losses  Underweight subjective probabilities of failure by treating small probabilities as functionally equivalent to zero  Overweight subjective probabilities of success by treating large probabilities as equivalent to 1.0 o When states are in the domain of losses or haven’t psychologically adjusted to ancient losses, they’re more likely to take the irredentist approach that Mearsheimer posits (ex. Germany in 1939 and Japan in 1941) o When states are in the domain of gain, they’re more likely to accept the status quo, as Waltz would predict • The Number of “Poles” o Structural realists argue that errors in statecraft are more likely as the # of great powers increases  So, bipolar world is most stable o The dilution literature and the broader body of work on information overload mean that sometimes decision makers are distracted because there are too many balls in the air (multi-polarity), sometimes because the ball is moving too fast (periods of hegemonic transition), at other times because, although there is only one ball, there are lots of other things in the air (complex pluralistic polities that send out contradictory cues), and finally because the air is so hazy and the illumination so poor that the ball may be difficult to see (gauging the intentions and capabilities of closed states). • Misperceptions o Misperceptions are not random but rather can take systematic forms o One class of misperceptions concerns one’s would-be allies  States can couple themselves too tightly to allies and get dragged into war (WWI)  States can free-ride and mistakenly count on others to take care of the balancing against potential aggressors (WWII) o Second class concerns potential adversaries  States must balance risk of two conflicting perpetual errors  Type I: incorrectly labelling status quo powers as expansionist, precipitating a conflict spiral  Type II: incorrectly labelling expansionist powers as status quo, leading to failures of deterrence • Evolution o It’s possible to grant evolutionary processes of natural selection a central role in shaping mental or organizational mechanisms of decision making and still have plenty of room for a psych research program that demonstrates deviations from rationality defined by perceptual-accuracy criteria • Moderating Variables o Two imp sets of social-institutional moderators of rationality merit mention  Organizational
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