Jervis, Robert (1976) “Perceptions and the Level-of-Analysis Problem,” ch. 1, in Perception and Misperception in International Politics, Princeton University Press.
Jervis’s renowned work Perception and Misperception in International Politics
- Contrast to rational-choice
- Contrast to “the traditional approach” discussed by Wolfers – “State-as-the-sole-actors approach”
- Equivalent/Similar to Waltz’s First Image – focus on individual actors and their decision-making process
- Main points
1. Weaknesses of non-decision making level analysis:
1) international environment (external factor): “The environment may influence the general outline of the state’s policy but not its specific responses” (pg. 17); to test how changes in international environment alter behaviors is near impossible.
2) national/domestic determinants (internal): “If states of the same type behave in the same way, then changes in a state’s leadership will not produce significant changes in foreign policy, and we need not examine the images, values, and calculations of individual decision-makers. Unfortunately, claims about continuity in a state’s foreign policy are notoriously difficult to judge…” (pg. 22);
2. Decision-making approach and the perceptions and misperceptions of the world and how they diverge from reality in detectable patterns.
3. Psychological analysis incorporated to view how decision-makers process information, and form, maintain, and change their beliefs about international relations and other actors.
4. Presence of misperception undermine the real-world accuracy of game theoretical models
5. (pg28) “it is often impossible to explain crucial decisions and policies without reference to the decision-makers’ beliefs and policies without reference to the decision-makers’ beliefs about the world and their images of others.” “…even if we found that people in the same situation – be it international, domestic, or bureaucratic – behave in the same way, it is useful to examine decision-making if there are constant differences between the decision-makers’ perceptions and reality” (Wolfers’ house on fire – circular logic back to decision makers)
1. Limits of psychological analysis
2. Focus on misperception
3. Difficulty in patternization – Theoretical rigorousness debatable