How Could I Have Been So Stupid? A Theoretical Review of the Bay of Pigs Fiasco


The literature on analogical reasoning has established several main points of consensus, or rules about how the process works and what behaviors it produces. The first rule is that the process is employed almost universally. Second, its utilization is extremely prominent in novel situations, such as foreign policy decisions. These rules being established, it must be inferred that almost all foreign policy makers utilize analogical reasoning to some extent when faced with a unique situation. Another rule established is that once a person has defined a situation in terms of the analogy and developed an appropriate policy, he/she will rarely change his/her opinion. However, it has been well established by the groupthink theory that, when placed in a group setting, individuals can be dissuaded from their original assessments of the necessary responses to a situation. Thus it must be inferred that group processes, at least the groupthink syndrome, and analogical reasoning interact. Consequently, in order to fully understand a policy failure, which has been credited to groupthink, it is necessary to examine what cognitive processes led to both the original formulation and the adoption of the policy. Exactly how these processes interact remains unstudied. Although the literature reviewed in this study is not comprehensive on either subject, it covers the more authoritative and critically reviewed literature. Also, extensive efforts to find a similar argument to the one presented here offered few results. This implies that the correlation, if any, remains relatively understudied. Therefore, there is a need for the work at hand, in order to further understand how these prevalent cognitive processes have affected foreign policy decisions and the implications for the future.


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Thesis Completion





Houghton, David Patrick


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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