Political psychology, militarized interstate disputes, foreign policy decision making, international conflict
Does a leader's psychology affect his/her likelihood of initiating a militarized interstate dispute? The study of leadership psychology has continuously found support for the central assumption that leaders matter in explaining a state's foreign policy behavior. However, many of these research projects have relied on small-sample case studies and experimental methods that have limited generalizability. In this paper, I use two variables drawn from the research program on leadership trait analysis (distrust and need for power) in a multivariate large-n study to explain the initiation of militarized interstate disputes (MIDs). 1,601 cases are drawn from the Correlates of War MID data set. First, using an ANOVA model, I demonstrate that MID initiators have higher average scores for both distrust and need for power and that this difference is statistically significant. Then, using logistic regression, I demonstrate that distrust and need for power have statistically significant positive effects on the likelihood of MID initiation. I conclude by comparing the predicted probabilities of the psychological variables of interest with territorial contiguity. All of these methods demonstrate that the psychological traits of leaders have an important effect on the likelihood of MID initiation.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Political Science; International Studies
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Smith, Gary, "Leadership Distrust, Need for Power, and the Initiation of Militarized Interstate Disputes" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 4742.