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War Cues and Foreign Policy Acts

  • Francis A. Beer (a1), Alice F. Healy (a1), Grant P. Sinclair (a1) and Lyle E. Bourne (a1)

Abstract

Cognitive psychological theory and research suggest that specific actions are primed or potentiated by prior related cues. Thus violent cues should influence subsequent conflictual action choices. Laboratory subjects were given one of two written vignettes recalling either the slaughter of World War I or Allied weakness before World War II. A control group received no vignette. Subjects were then asked to specify foreign-policy choices from an inventory of possible cooperative-conflictual acts, relevant to a dispute between two fictional countries, in five sequential rounds. Both war vignettes produced more subsequent conflictual choices for subjects with dominant (i.e., aggressive) personality traits, and less conflictual choices for subjects with submissive personality traits. The findings suggest that priming activates underlying personality predispositions that enhance cooperative or conflictual action choices. The results also point to the potential importance of prior cues in shaping foreign-policy decision makers' and mass-public responses to international events.

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War Cues and Foreign Policy Acts

  • Francis A. Beer (a1), Alice F. Healy (a1), Grant P. Sinclair (a1) and Lyle E. Bourne (a1)

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