Avoiding Losses/taking Risks: Prospect Theory and International Conflict
University of Michigan Press, 1994 - 165 sidor
This volume is a comprehensive examination of the benefits and potential pitfalls of employing prospect theory---a leading alternative to expected utility as a theory of decision under risk---to understand and explain political behavior. The collection brings together both theoretical and empirical studies, thus grounding the conclusions about prospect theory's potential for enriching political analyses in an assessment of its performance in explaining actual cases.
The theoretical chapters provide an overview of the main hypotheses of prospect theory: people frame risk-taking decisions around a reference point, they tend to accept greater risk to prevent losses than to make gains, and they often perceive the devastation of a loss as greater than the benefit of a gain. The three case studies---Roosevelt's decision-making during the Munich crisis of 1938, Carter's April 1980 decision to rescue the American hostages in Iran, and Soviet behavior toward Syria in 1966-67---generally support these hypotheses. Nevertheless, the authors are frank about potentially difficult conceptual and methodological problems, making explicit reference to alternative explanations, such as the rational actor model, which posits the maximization of expected value.
Contributors to the volume include Jack Levy, Robert Jervis, Barbara Farnham, Rose McDermott, Audrey McInerney, and Eldar Shafir.
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The impact of Roosevelt ' s frame change , reinforced by the certainty effect , was
to transform what had been merely a potential problem for American foreign
policy into a serious loss which was certain to occur . Furthermore , because this
That is , imminence increased the salience of war by making clear that the war
which seemed certain to occur would do so now rather than later . Not only might
this awareness have heightened the painful emotions that Roosevelt was already
This tendency is all the greater for a state which perceives itself to be in a zero -
sum relationship with its adversary , which might occur for the two leading states
in a bipolar system or for an enduring rivalry . The destabilizing tendencies of
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Political Implications of Loss Aversion
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