Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Chapter 5: Theories based on the Idiosyncratic...

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Chapter 5: Theories based on the Idiosyncratic Characteristics of Individuals Theories of bureaucratic politics were based on the assumption that foreign policy is the result of decisions made by individuals whose actions can be understood by examining their responsibilities or duties, the individual level of analysis builds causal theories by exploring ‘decision-makers’ idiosyncratic features. Idiosyncratic features-individual personalities, beliefs, psychological maker-up, experiences-may influence their decisions much more than their roles. Perception and Misperception In the theories drawn from the other levels of analysis we have assumed that there is an objective reality, discernible to all relevant parties, with which decision-makers interact. Modelling the Role of Perceptions Stimulus perception/ Interpretation decision The same events can be viewed and interpreted differently by different ppl. For truly rational calculations to occur, several conditions must hold: 1. The decision-makers are assumed to have perfect information-they are assumed to now all their options and to know all the costs and benefits (the ramifications) associated with each option. 2. That also means they must understand the causal effect of their choices. ***Neither of these conditions is ever met in reality *** 3. Actors must be able to rank their choices, for they must be able to relate what they value into some sort of schedule of preferences. If the first two conditions are not met, then neither can the third, expect by accident. Since decision-makers are unlikely to ever conduct rational calculation under these conditions, the proponents of the individual level of analysis argue that other factors shape decision-making. Belief-Systems Their most persuasive argument is to pose the question: do decision-makers seem to be taking the steps necessary for
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rational calculation? Decision-makers often hold sets of beliefs (sometimes grounded in ideology, sometimes in personal experience), which force them to interpret of perceive other countries’ actions in particular ways. It is difficult to live up to the standards of the rational action
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Chapter 5 - Chapter 5: Theories based on the Idiosyncratic...

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