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Conflict and Cooperation in International Relations

Stephen J. Majeski and Shane Fricks
The Journal of Conflict Resolution
Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 622-645
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/174380
Page Count: 24
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Conflict and Cooperation in International Relations
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Abstract

Neorealist theories of international relations, particularly when formalized as noncooperative games, have difficulty accounting for substantial cooperation between nation-states, perhaps because neorealists have underestimated the role of communication between states. To address this issue, the authors developed an experiment in which nation-states, represented as groups, can communicate. Two groups of three human subjects interacted for 10 iterations of a prisoner's dilemma (PD) game and an altered version of the game. The authors conducted 79 of these 10 iteration trials and tested the effects of communication and a withdrawal option on groups' ability to cooperate. Results indicate that groups cooperate more and defect less when they can communicate. Most groups appear to be motivated by fear of the opponent; communication appears to be a good mechanism for alleviating fear. However, a small but significant number of groups are motivated by greed; communication is not very effective in these situations.

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