Cognitive and affective constraints on the decisionmaker

by Peter DeLeon

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In his new book, [Perception and Misperception in International Politics], Robert Jervis documents the cognitive obstacles that constrain foreign policymakers in understanding not only what actions are required but also how easily their actions can be misperceived. He asserts that they rarely recognize their own preconceptions, let alone how these affect their decisions. This book is also valuable for international relations scholars. Jervis' command of experimental psychology permits him to offer a number of hypotheses regarding the personal cognitive and affective constraints operating in the international arena and, just as important, how they are translated into faulty policies. Finally, Jervis' volume is of great value to politico-military gamers. It provides a series of testable conditions upon which they might base their simulations.

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