Crisis initiation and misperception

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This paper applies a theory-of-moves game model to analyze the effects of misperception on crisis initiation. The analysis indicates that the effects of misperception on initiation vary across player types and their level of dissatisfaction with the status quo: the initiation behavior of hard-line and middle-line players is adversely affected - they initiate crises they would otherwise avoid - at low and moderate levels of dissatisfaction, but not at high levels, where dissatisfaction is a sufficient condition for initiation; softline initiators, on the other hand, are nearly always adversely affected. Misperception may also result in noninitiation, which may be detrimental to satisfied players who wish to protect the status quo but beneficent to would-be targets. These conclusions, which support prior game-theoretic work, have important implications for deterrence and crisis-prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-367
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Theoretical Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1995


  • crisis initiation
  • deterrence
  • misperception
  • theory of moves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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