This thesis attempts to explain the reasons states choose to prey on other states or territories. A way of testing significance was devised and three variables were produced: Proclivity to violence, winning coalition size, and whether or not a war of conquest took place. The scope for this project was the time period of 1900-1950 and the location was Europe. The European countries were then refined down to a list of 10 states based on power ratings used in the Correlates of War. Then the leaders of each of these states were rated on a scale of 1 – 5 on personal violence, or how inclined they were to act violently. In order to determine this number their biographies were researched and specific traits were used to determine if they were violent individuals. These include military service, criminal history, participation in violent sports, support of military action, participation in a war effort, and any other examples of violent behavior. Second, the winning coalition size of each of these leader’s states was determined as an indicator of the amount of domestic support a leader had. This was ascertained by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s rating system. The third variable, the occurrence of a war of conquest, was determined by finding if there was a war of conquest that took place during the tenure of the individual leaders. The hypothesis is that a leader with a high proclivity to violence and a small winning coalition size will have presided over more wars of conquest than leaders with a low proclivity to violence and a large winning coalition. The three variables were compiled at the individual leader level totaling 151 cases and 10 countries. Then they were tested using the SPSS statistical program using a binary logistic regression. The results showed no significance between the variables. When tested individually however the independent variable of proclivity towards violence showed a p-value of .054, making it nearly significant at the .05 level. This finding illustrates a potentially significant correlation between the individual violence level of a leader and whether or not they initiate or continue a war of conquest.


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Thesis Completion





Dolan, Thomas


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Domestic politics; Leader psychology; Political pyschology; Selectorate theory; War; War of conquest







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis