In the Eye of the Beholder: How Leaders and Intelligence Communities Assess the Intentions of Adversaries

  title={In the Eye of the Beholder: How Leaders and Intelligence Communities Assess the Intentions of Adversaries},
  author={Keren Yarhi-Milo},
  journal={International Security},
How do policymakers infer the long-term political intentions of their states' adversaries? A new approach to answering this question, the “selective attention thesis,” posits that individual perceptual biases and organizational interests and practices influence which types of indicators a state's political leaders and its intelligence community regard as credible signals of an adversary's intentions. Policymakers often base their interpretations on their own theories, expectations, and needs… Expand
Identifying intentions: Latvian policy-makers’ perceptions of Russia’s intentions
ABSTRACT There is much disagreement on the specific aspects of behavior that are the most useful for estimating intentions of potential adversaries. One view is that military capabilities are theExpand
The Illusion of International Prestige
  • J. Mercer
  • Political Science
  • International Security
  • 2017
Policymakers and international relations scholars concur that prestige is critical to world politics because states having prestige enjoy greater authority. An examination of how policymakers assessExpand
The Psychological Logic of Peace Summits: How Empathy Shapes Outcomes of Diplomatic Negotiations
Why do some peace summits succeed while others fail? We offer an explanation that highlights the importance of empathy between leaders. Studies in negotiations and psychology show that empathy—theExpand
Nuclear Beliefs: A Leader-Focused Theory of Counter-Proliferation
ABSTRACT Why do some leaders use preventive military force to destroy another country's nuclear program, while others do not? Despite nuclear proliferation becoming a growing source of concern,Expand
Face-to-Face Diplomacy: Social Neuroscience and International Relations
Face-to-face diplomacy has long been the lynchpin of world politics, yet it is largely dismissed by scholars of International Relations as unimportant. Marcus Holmes argues that dismissing this typeExpand
Credibility Concerns and Escalatory Behavior: Evidence from the Berlin Crisis in 1961-63
One of the central questions in crisis bargaining is why policymakers often become locked into their position in crisis. This crisis escalation puzzle has been studied by a number of scholars, butExpand
A Framework for Measuring Leaders’ Willingness to Use Force
Abstract Political leaders’ willingness to use force is central to many explanations of foreign policy and interstate conflict. Unfortunately, existing indicators typically measure one aspect of thisExpand
The Three Tensions of Investigating Intelligence Failures
This paper offers a framework for analyzing governmental inquiries into intelligence failures. The paper argues that all investigations face three inherent tensions over their timing, purpose, andExpand
The Surprise of Peace: The Challenge of Intelligence in Identifying Positive Strategic–Political Shifts
  • Sagit Stivi-Kerbis
  • Political Science
  • International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence
  • 2019
Just as a surprise military attack can shock and disturb, so can a political offensive take place through unexpected maneuvers. Missing it can have farreaching consequences. In order to tackle theExpand
Protection States Trust?: Major Power Patronage, Nuclear Behavior, and Alliance Dynamics
Why do some states that receive a nuclear security guarantee move towards, and sometimes back away from, nuclear weapons? To answer these questions, I propose alliance compensation theory. I argueExpand


The Personal Touch: Leaders’ Impressions, Costly Signaling, and Assessments of Sincerity in International Affairs
What counts as evidence that the other side is sincere? Within mainstream international relations literature, scholars have focused on costly signals. We argue, however, that in the real worldExpand
International crises are modeled as a political “war of attrition†in which state leaders choose at each moment whether to attack, back down, or escalate. A leader who backs down suffers audienceExpand
The Cost of Empty Threats: A Penny, Not a Pound
A large literature in political science takes for granted that democratic leaders would pay substantial domestic political costs for failing to carry out the public threats they make in internationalExpand
A Cognitive-Psychodynamic Perspective to Understanding Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's Worldview
The systematic study of images in political psychology, as it arose in the early 1960s, portrays U.S. foreign policy decision makers and diplomats as cold warriors, operating with a limited set ofExpand
Perception and misperception in international politics
This study of perception and misperception in foreign policy was a landmark in the application of cognitive psychology to political decision making. The New York Times called it, in an articleExpand
Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs
We propose a model of motivated skepticism that helps explain when and why citizens are biased-information processors. Two experimental studies explore how citizens evaluate arguments aboutExpand
Out of the Lab and into the Archives: A Method for Testing Psychological Explanations of Political Decision Making
International relations scholars have long debated the usefulness of two main competing models of the foreign policy decision making process, the rational and the psychological. However, there haveExpand
International Security Institutions, Domestic Politics, and Institutional Legitimacy
Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the informational role of international institutions. However, several questions about the informational aspects of institutional behavior remainExpand
The belief system and national images: a case study
Even a cursory survey of the relevant literature reveals that in recent years-particularly in the decade and a half since the end of World War II-students of international politics have taken aExpand
Rational Learning and Partisan Attitudes
Theory: Characterizing voters as rational actors who update their party affiliations based on a Bayesian assimilation of new information, Achen (1992) showed that a revisionist model of partyExpand