The Cognitive Calculus of Foreign Policy Decision Making Academic Article uri icon


  • The cognitive calculus theory of foreign policy decision making is an attempt to bridge the gap between two research orientations in the international relations literature: outcome validity and process validity. The cognitive calculus theory models the mental calculations of foreign policy decision making with the premise that an individual conducts the decision-making process and the model should therefore represent his or her capabilities. An experiment tested a few of the model's derivations concerning the effects of the quality of information on process and choice parameters. The results support major aspects of the cognitive calculus theory. Relevant items are attended to more carefully than irrelevant items and speed up the decision process. Furthermore, the valence of the relevant items disposes the choice of a corresponding option. The consequences of plugging the information set used in the experiment into the mathematical model of cognitive calculus show that human behavior parallels the model's predictions.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Conflict Resolution

author list (cited authors)

  • Geva, N., Mayhar, J., & Skorick, J. M.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Geva, Nehemia||Mayhar, James||Skorick, J Mark

publication date

  • August 2000