Mutual optimism as a cause of conflict

Secret alliances and conflict onset

Muhammet Bas, Robert Schub

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    A prominent international-relations theory posits that mutual optimism, due to two sides holding divergent estimates of their relative bargaining power, causes interstate conflict. We develop a theory of mutual optimism in which conflicting bargaining power estimates arise from asymmetric information about which, if any, third parties will join either side in a military dispute. We contend that secret alliances can generate mutual optimism, which increases the probability of conflict. By exploiting secret alliances as a measurable source of private information, we provide the first systematic test of mutual optimism that directly assesses a state's secret capabilities. Optimism exists when a state's secret allies are more numerous or powerful than anticipated by opponents. Our empirical tests-as well as robustness checks-strongly support our theoretical expectation. We conclude that mutual optimism is an empirically, as well as theoretically, important cause of interstate conflict.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)552-564
    Number of pages13
    JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
    Volume60
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

    Fingerprint

    optimism
    cause
    bargaining power
    allies
    international relations
    Military

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

    Cite this

    Mutual optimism as a cause of conflict : Secret alliances and conflict onset. / Bas, Muhammet; Schub, Robert.

    In: International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 3, 01.09.2016, p. 552-564.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Bas, Muhammet ; Schub, Robert. / Mutual optimism as a cause of conflict : Secret alliances and conflict onset. In: International Studies Quarterly. 2016 ; Vol. 60, No. 3. pp. 552-564.
    @article{5e0694b7fda648819aa0c7c7276bd1fc,
    title = "Mutual optimism as a cause of conflict: Secret alliances and conflict onset",
    abstract = "A prominent international-relations theory posits that mutual optimism, due to two sides holding divergent estimates of their relative bargaining power, causes interstate conflict. We develop a theory of mutual optimism in which conflicting bargaining power estimates arise from asymmetric information about which, if any, third parties will join either side in a military dispute. We contend that secret alliances can generate mutual optimism, which increases the probability of conflict. By exploiting secret alliances as a measurable source of private information, we provide the first systematic test of mutual optimism that directly assesses a state's secret capabilities. Optimism exists when a state's secret allies are more numerous or powerful than anticipated by opponents. Our empirical tests-as well as robustness checks-strongly support our theoretical expectation. We conclude that mutual optimism is an empirically, as well as theoretically, important cause of interstate conflict.",
    author = "Muhammet Bas and Robert Schub",
    year = "2016",
    month = "9",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1093/isq/sqw002",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "60",
    pages = "552--564",
    journal = "International Studies Quarterly",
    issn = "0020-8833",
    publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
    number = "3",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Mutual optimism as a cause of conflict

    T2 - Secret alliances and conflict onset

    AU - Bas, Muhammet

    AU - Schub, Robert

    PY - 2016/9/1

    Y1 - 2016/9/1

    N2 - A prominent international-relations theory posits that mutual optimism, due to two sides holding divergent estimates of their relative bargaining power, causes interstate conflict. We develop a theory of mutual optimism in which conflicting bargaining power estimates arise from asymmetric information about which, if any, third parties will join either side in a military dispute. We contend that secret alliances can generate mutual optimism, which increases the probability of conflict. By exploiting secret alliances as a measurable source of private information, we provide the first systematic test of mutual optimism that directly assesses a state's secret capabilities. Optimism exists when a state's secret allies are more numerous or powerful than anticipated by opponents. Our empirical tests-as well as robustness checks-strongly support our theoretical expectation. We conclude that mutual optimism is an empirically, as well as theoretically, important cause of interstate conflict.

    AB - A prominent international-relations theory posits that mutual optimism, due to two sides holding divergent estimates of their relative bargaining power, causes interstate conflict. We develop a theory of mutual optimism in which conflicting bargaining power estimates arise from asymmetric information about which, if any, third parties will join either side in a military dispute. We contend that secret alliances can generate mutual optimism, which increases the probability of conflict. By exploiting secret alliances as a measurable source of private information, we provide the first systematic test of mutual optimism that directly assesses a state's secret capabilities. Optimism exists when a state's secret allies are more numerous or powerful than anticipated by opponents. Our empirical tests-as well as robustness checks-strongly support our theoretical expectation. We conclude that mutual optimism is an empirically, as well as theoretically, important cause of interstate conflict.

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84995804448&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84995804448&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1093/isq/sqw002

    DO - 10.1093/isq/sqw002

    M3 - Article

    VL - 60

    SP - 552

    EP - 564

    JO - International Studies Quarterly

    JF - International Studies Quarterly

    SN - 0020-8833

    IS - 3

    ER -