International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Of Six Minds on the Matter: A Psychology-based Typology of Hawkish and Dovish Decision Makers

Adam David Brown, University of Kansas

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of Kansas
Research Area: Political decision making

Foreign policy decision makers are often labeled as “hawks” or “doves,” and states’ foreign policies can vary widely depending on whether hawks or doves hold sway.  Yet seldom asked is this important question: why are some elites hawks while others are doves?  In this paper I ask and seek to answer this crucial question.  Notably, a few previous studies also seek to answer this question.  However, their answers typically suffer one or both of the following shortcomings.  First, they often overlook potential variations among elites within the broad categories of hawk and dove.  Second, they typically fail to systematically assess the characteristics supposed to distinguish hawks from doves.  My paper provides an improvement over these previous studies by systematically assessing the characteristics that distinguish hawkish and dovish elites and explicitly exploring differences among elites within the two categories.  Specifically, I propose a psychology-based six-fold typology comprising three hawkish and three dovish decision maker types.  I base distinctions among the types on differing operational code beliefs, personality traits, hypothesized susceptibilities to specific cognitive errors/biases, and hypothesized foreign policy positions.  To test my typology’s validity, I first examine actual decision makers’ verbal behavior using established content analysis techniques.  This facilitates determining if real world elites can be classified via my typology.  Then, to test the hypotheses embedded in my typology, I use case study methods to determine the errors/biases to which examined elites are susceptible as well as the policy positions the elites espouse.  Initial findings are presented in the paper.