Outlines S04 rd2


POLS 324 Lecture 4:

-Psychological influences on decision-making


1.                  Jervis, Misperception

a.                   How does psychology influence decision-making?

i.                     Newtonian Psychology hypothesis

ii.                   pre‑Copernican Psychology

iii.                  Bowling Shoe hypothesis


b.                  How do these relate to other theories?


2.                  Janis, Groupthink

a.                   How do group dynamics influence decision-making?

b.                  Groupthink: For a variety of reasons, working in groups constrains options.

i.                     Groups B> less options

c.                   Janis argues that Groupthink accounts for/subsumes/helps explain these factors:

i.                     Time pressures

ii.                   Bureaucratic detachment

iii.                  Stereotypes of communists and Asians

iv.                 Overcommitment to defeat of enemy

v.                   Domestication of dissenters

vi.                 Avoidance of opposing views

3.                  Ostrom

a.                   Three problems that hinder cooperation, all caused or exacerbated by anarchy:

i.                     Tragedy of the Commons

ii.                   Prisoners= Dilemma

iii.                  Collective Action Problems

b.                  How can one fix these problems?

i.                     hints: enforcement, communication, reciprocity, shadow of the future/concern for reputation.  (from 241/141)


                                                              Prisoner's Dilemma


                                                   Prisoner # 1

                                        Silent               Confess
























CC= both silent, nailed on minor charge, both get 1 year in jail

DC, CD=one confesses (rats), the other silent.  Silent guy is major league evil, gets 15 years.  Rat gets time served.

DD=both rat, both pretty evil, both get 10 years.


Game highlights basic incentives to cheat given certain assumptions: bad guys that can not talk to each other.  One shot iteration.                                                             

1.                  Putnam and the Two-Level Game

a.                   Two main arguments:

i.                     domestic politics influences FP

ii.                   FP can be used to manipulate domestic politics


b.                  Win sets: what are they?

i.                     Role of (private information)

ii.                   Role of Linkage

iii.                  Role of Domestic Institutions


c.                   Cool observations:

i.                     small win-sets increase collective action problems

ii.                   weakness can be a strength

iii.                  negotiators may want their opponent to be strong and popular

iv.                 hardliners may find it easier to make soft-lines deals.


2.                  Misc M&P

a.                   Theme: lots of different perspectives: hegemonic decline, imperialist, racist, gendered, etc.





WIN SET DIAGRAM, Putnam, 442






Win-set = acceptable range of outcomes for a given party.  Acceptable includes factoring in domestic politics.


Deal = when there is overlap between win-sets



Decoding: Ym = Y=s maximum goals, Xm = X=s maximum goals, the rest are bargaining positions with Y3 being Y=s smallest win set (ie smallest distance between maximum and acceptable goals).  Deals can be found anywhere between Y1 and X1.


Y is decreasing win-set size by moving to the right, from Y1 to Y2, and then killing the deal withY3.


The trick to the article is specifying all the influences that affect win-set sizes (aka ability to bargain and reach deals).

POLS 324: The Foreign Policy Process:

How does process (structure and channels of power) affect policy?


1.                  Themes and Questions

a.                   What is Power?

i.                     Command vs. influence

(1)               Influence what?  Influence who?

ii.                   Formal authority vs. actual authority

b.                  Who has what information?  How does information flow within and across each organization?  (What are the information channels?)

c.                   How do organizational and bureaucratic issues help or hinder rational, >ideal= policy making?

d.                  What prescriptions and strategies are yielded by the study of process?


2.                  President

a.                   Constitutional powers

b.                  As head of the country and of the executive branch

c.                   As a symbol

d.                  As a person


3.                  Congress

a.                   Constitutional and other legal powers

i.                     Appropriations

ii.                   Advice and consent

iii.                  Raise and support armies, navies, militia

iv.                 War powers

b.                  Committees


4.                  State Department and Secretary of State


5.                  Department of Defense: Secretary and the four/three services


6.                  Intelligence Services


7.                  National Security Council and the National Security Advisor


8.                  Other branches: Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture


9.                  Making it all come together

a.                   Our Four Stage Model: Agenda Setting, Option Formulation, Decision Making, Implementation

b.                  Themes for Essence of Decision


10.              Questions for future:

a.                   How might the foreign policy process change in response to mass terrorism or other sudden shift in threats?  In response to global environmental degradation?


11.              Instruments

a.                   Force

b.                  Covert action

i.                     Intelligence

c.                   Economic

i.                     Aid

d.                  Moral suasion

e.                   Agenda setting

f.                    Treaties and Negotiation

g.                   Soft Power



POLS 324: Essence of Decision, Rational Actor Model


1.                  Cuban Missile Crisis

a.                                           Themes

i.                                             Near nuclear war (still a nuclear world today)

ii.                                           Models come to life

iii.                                          Importance of credibility

iv.                                         Crisis dynamics


b.                                          Background

i.                                             Cold War

ii.                                           Nuclear Balance


2.                  Components of Each Model

a.                                           Actor

b.                                          Goal(s) and Motivations(s)

c.                                                       Actions determined by...

d.                                                      Other influences on actions

e.                                           Prediction using this model


3.                  Components of Each Chapter

a.                                           Why nuclear weapons brought to Cuba?

b.                                          Why did the US respond with a blockade?

c.                                           Why were the missiles withdrawn?

d.                                          What are the lessons?

e.                                           Methods issues:

i.                                             Note use of this for papers and arguments

ii.                                           Note how like a structured focused comparison

iii.                                          Note how search for evidence is different under each model.

4.                  Rational Actor Model


Actor:  unitary nation-as-a-whole actor

Goal(s) and Motivations(s):  Maximize overall strategic[1] national interest (same as inference, really)

Actions determined by:  Choices made from wide variety of options

Other influences on actions:  Choices reflect a stable, prioritized value system.  All information relative to choices is known to actor.  Actor is assumed to be rational.

Prediction using this model:  Requires knowing the actor's values and capabilities.  values are often assumed to be known since actor is motivated by strategic national interest.


5.                  Questions:

a.                   Is the rational actor model really so implicit in most theories and policy assessments?

b.                  Can you >black box= FP?


6.                  Model I, RAM, Applied

a.                   RAM arguments about why the missiles were deployed

b.                  RAM arguments about what to do about it

c.                   RAM arguments about how the crisis was resolved


7.                  Questions:

a.                   How can all those options be rational?

b.                  Did the process and actions as described seem rational?


Pre CMC US/Soviet Arms Race





US Nweps


Sov Nweps

















































Model II: Organizational Behavior


1.                  What do Organizations do?

2.                  How do they do it?

3.                  The Model:


Actor:  An organization (one of many within government)


Goal(s) and Motivations(s):  Organizational health (often measured in terms of size and wealth).  Reduce uncertainty.


Actions determined by:  Standard operating procedures (SOPs), routines, and other actions motivated by promotion or protection of the organization and reduction of uncertainty.


Other influences on actions:  Information and action distorted by parochial priorities and perceptions.  Scope of information and action reduced by factored problems and fractionated power.  Organizations have limited flexibility and are often slow to learn and change.


Prediction using this model:  Requires knowing the organization's SOPs.  Knowing what they did yesterday (t-1), allows to predict what they will do today.

4.                  What affects organizational behavior?

a.                   Efficiency vs. Culture

b.                  Interactive complexity

i.                     especially risky when matched with tight coupling

(1)               further exacerbated in crises

c.                   Organizational learning


5.                  Model II, Organizational Behavior, Applied

a.                   Model II arguments about why the missiles were deployed

b.                  Model II arguments about what to do about it

c.                   Model II arguments about how the crisis was resolved


6.                  Questions:

a.                   How can one create a means-ends chain if organizational behavior is rampant?

b.                  Is organizational behavior rampant?

c.                   What kinds of things does organizational behavior affect?

i.                     Is it taking on RAM directly?



Model III, Governmental Politics Model


1.                  Bureaucratic or Governmental Politics Model


Actor:  Actors defined by their power position within government.  (I think actors can be organizations as well as individuals)


Goal(s) and Motivations(s):  Maximizing power and influence as well as strategic national interest.  Values and goals may conflict.


Actions determined by:  Results of bargaining between actors.  Bargaining is affected by power of each actor, position within hierarchy, action channels, available information. 


Other influences on actions: Information and action may be distorted by parochial priorities and perceptions, in this case phrased as "where you stand depends on where you sit."  Since this model includes individuals, it includes constraints on decision making such as time pressures, misperceptions, and personality.


Prediction using this model:  Requires knowing the relative power of each actor as well as each actor's value system.  Organization model often helps explain an actor's values.

2.                  Model III as a >catch-all, NEC= model

a.                   Psychological Theories

i.                     Jervis, etc. for individuals and their idiosyncracies

ii.                   Janis and Groupthink for groups.

b.                  Domestic politics

i.                     public opinion

ii.                   Congress

c.                   Bargaining with allies (if forming joint policy)


3.                  Model III, Governmental Politics, Applied

a.                   Model III arguments about why the missiles were deployed

b.                  Model III arguments about what to do about it

c.                   Model III arguments about how the crisis was resolved


4.                  Questions:

a.                   How is this different from RAM?

b.                  What is the difference between an output and a resultant?



Tying EOD together...


1.                  Questions?

a.                   Why was this book written?

b.                  How do the models relate to each other, how can we tie them together?

c.                   Are "non RAM" decisions necessarily indictable or less wise?

d.                  Does this book help one think about making decisions to deter or appease, to balance or to de-spiral?  How?

e.                   How reliable is deterrence?

f.                    What policy recommendations does EOD offer or support?

g.                   How can government be tweaked to run more effectively and more safely?

h.                   What are the book=s strengths and weaknesses?

i.                     Any biases evident?  Hidden motivations?


2.                  Tying it all together with the rest of the course

a.                   Review of themes and central questions:

i.                     What are US interests?

ii.                   What is the role of values in defining interests?

iii.                  How is policy made and what explains sub-optimal outcomes?


Integrating Meyer's Framework with Allison's Models:




Rational Actor






Agenda Setting



opportunities are perceived and then ranked (++, increases with importance of issue)


Fractionated info gathering => hit or miss perceptions; Biased perceptions


Biased, parochial perceptions


Option Formulation


All options weighed


Determined by pre-set menu; also by bias (++)


Determined by combo of what is best for self/org and for country (++)




Best option chosen to promote national interest


Based on either SOP or maximizing organizational health


Result of politics, bargaining, relative power (++)




n/a but assumes Capabilities used to best extent


SOPs (++)


Infighting leads to inefficiencies and errors


(++) denotes a particularly good fit; relatively strong explanatory power

[1]  Strategic in this case refers to security, power, and wealth.