Game Theory and Interstate Conflict

Stephen L. Quackenbush

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online June 2014 | | DOI:
Game Theory and Interstate Conflict

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Game theory is the analysis of how decision makers interact in decision making to take into account reactions and choices of the other decision makers. International conflict and other phenomena in international relations occur as a result of decisions made by people. These people may be leaders of states, members of the legislature or military, members of nongovernmental organizations, or just simply citizens of a country. Given this central importance of decisions, many people argue that to explain international conflict we need to focus on explaining decisions. But how do we explain such decisions? To do so, many rely on the assumption of rationality, which opens the door to game theory. This review begins by examining general overviews of international conflict and classic game-theoretic works. It then explores textbooks on game theory, journals publishing game-theoretic work on international conflict, and works on rationality and rational choice theory. Next it brings attention to bargaining models of war and works related to various specific factors affecting the outbreak of international conflict, including power, domestic politics, and alliances. The article then reviews works related to war outcomes and termination before concluding with a look at the empirical analysis of game-theoretic models.

Article.  7277 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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