Foreign policy decision making

Janice Gross Stein

in Foreign Policy

Third edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2016 | ISBN: 9780198708902
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191850806 | DOI:
Foreign policy decision making

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This chapter examines the use of rational, psychological, and neurological models in foreign policy decision making. It begins with a discussion of two commonsensical models of rationality in decision making. In the first model, rational decision making refers to the process that people should use to choose. The second, more demanding, models of rational choice expect far more from decision makers. Borrowing heavily from micro-economics, they expect decision makers to generate subjective probability estimates of the consequences of the options that they consider, to update these estimates as they consider new evidence, and to maximize their subjective expected utility. The chapter proceeds by exploring psychological models and the so-called cognitive revolution, the relevance of cognitive psychology to foreign policy analysis, and the ways that the study of the neuroscience of emotion and cognition can be extended to the analysis of foreign policy and to decision making.

Keywords: foreign policy; decision making; rationality; rational decision making; rational choice; cognitive psychology; foreign policy analysis; neuroscience; emotion; cognition

Chapter.  8578 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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