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How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics

Decision-makers and scholars often assume that diplomatic signals are received as they are intended. They have faith in both their ability to convey their messages to others and to correctly interpret others’ behavior. Robert Jervis’ research shows that this is not true and that international politics often resembles the famous Japanese movie Rashomon. Perceptions are strongly influenced by people’s theories and expectations on the one hand and their personal and political needs on the other. Both historical scholarship and policy-making would be improved by an understanding of how people perceive.

Date & Time

Apr. 4, 2019
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics

Image removed.Decision-makers and scholars often assume that diplomatic signals are received as they are intended.  They have faith in both their ability to convey their messages to others and to correctly interpret others’ behavior.  Robert Jervis’ research shows that this is not true and that international politics often resembles the famous Japanese movie Rashomon.  Perceptions are strongly influenced by people’s theories and expectations on the one hand and their personal and political needs on the other.  Both historical scholarship and policy-making would be improved by an understanding of how people perceive.

Robert Jervis is Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University.  His most recent book is How Statesmen Think, and his other books include Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War, American Foreign Policy in a New Era, System Effects: Complexity in Political Life, and The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution. He was President of the American Political Science Association in 2000-01, and was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Venice and Oberlin College.  In 2006 he received the National Academy of Science’s tri-annual award for behavioral sciences contributions to avoiding nuclear war. 

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest and the George Washington University History Department for their support.


Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

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