Learning and the Evolution of Enduring International Rivalries: A Strategic Approach

Ben D. Mor, Zeev Maoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enduring international rivalries represent a set of relationships between states characterized by repeated conflict. This study explores their strategic evolution. We develop a game-theoretic model in which preferences of actors for any given situation are determined by two factors: satisfaction with the status quo and a perceived capability to change it or defend it. We explore patterns of strategic evolution based on learning and misperception of the opponent. This allows us to make a meaningful substantive distinction among three types of dyadic relations: (a) peaceful relations, which are characterized by the stable absence of conflict; (b) proto-rivalries, which are characterized by brief but non-recurrent conflict encounters that stabilize into a given status quo; and (c) enduring rivalries, which are characterized by recurrent conflict spirals and by the stability of conflict outcomes. We know that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, learning does not necessarily promote peace. Neither does misperception necessarily promote protracted conflict. The implications of these and other findings with respect to the study of enduring rivalries are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-48
Number of pages48
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1999


  • Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
  • Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
  • National Security and War


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