Cover: Preventing Nuclear Conflict

Preventing Nuclear Conflict

What Can the Behavioral Sciences Contribute?

Published 1983

by James P. Kahan, Barbara R. Williams, Alan Platt, Nanette C. Gantz, Morlie Hammer Graubard, Richard E. Darilek


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This Note addresses one of the most crucial issues of our time, prevention of nuclear war, from the perspective of the behavioral sciences. The Note contends that the direct applicability of empirically derived behavioral principles to international policymaking has yet to be proved. A great body of research dealing directly with human behavior lies at the core of the behavioral sciences. Findings from this research should be able to contribute to the understanding of critical human decisions, intentions, and actions that could help prevent, as well as give rise to, nuclear war. Moving beyond questions of the immediate applicability of the behavioral sciences to such critical issues, this Note explores some potential contributions that evidence from the behavioral sciences could make in the future. A scenario is presented that posits an escalation of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States that culminates in a strategic nuclear exchange. A specific intervention using behaviorally based principles is then added to the scenario and explained.

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