Credibility of Deterrence Threats- A Social Psychological Perspective

  • Ahmed Sheikh Western Illinois University, Illinois
Keywords: International threats, Psychological approach, Threat credibility


In view of the prevailing ambiguities, impressionistic beliefs and perhaps distortions that shroud the contemporary deterrence theory and the various strategies of deterrence associated with it, this paper attempts to break fresh grounds, particularly in the area of threat credibility. By focusing the level of analysis somewhere between the individual personality and social structures and thus using a social psychological approach, it attempts to explain the behaviour (as related to the credibility of deterrence threats) of national decision-makers, during acute international crises. After analyzing and re-evaluating the relevant literature in the field, the paper presents a functional model of threat perception involving two opponents. The model takes into account such variables as: (1) basic human needs; (2) role of reference groups; (3)credibility and specificity of international threats; (4) leaders intentions and predispositions; and (5) self-perception of threats. The major conclusions of the paper are: (1) no communicative means for influencing human behaviour are uniformally effective because of the problem of distortion of perception; evidence suggests in most cases rationality under high fear is impaired because fear tends to reduce the range of clues which are available for the consideration of the threatened party.
How to Cite
Sheikh, A. (2014). Credibility of Deterrence Threats- A Social Psychological Perspective. Defence Science Journal, 22(1), 55-60.
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