Cultural expectations of one's own and other nations' foreign policy action templates
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One useful conceptualization of culture is that of a preestablished set of behavioral competencies, which in turn form behavioral dispositions. According to this variant of culture theory, decision-makers faced with new situations will rely on established behavioral competencies informing an initial policy response. This assumption can also be applied at the nation-state level, where established behavioral predispositions may lessen uncertainty and stress in ambiguous yet salient foreign policy situations. Likewise, observers in one nation-state may be able to identify such behavioral dispositions in other nation-states, lending greater transparency and predictability to international interactions. Do such culturally based action templates exist? Are they recognizable even to ordinary citizens? Citizens in Russia, Japan, and the United States were asked to posit the most likely and least likely behavioral responses to a variety of foreign policy situations by their own nation and by the other two nations in the sample. The results indicate that recognition of such templates takes place, and that recognition of one nation's template content by citizens of the other nations typically matches recognition of template content by the nation's own citizens. The research also shows that such action templates can be eroded and become unrecognizable over time, both to insiders and to outsiders.
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