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2019. "Does Apologizing Work? An Empirical Test of the Conventional Wisdom." Behavioural Public Policy (forthcoming)

Public figures often apologize after making controversial statements. There are reasons to believe, however, that apologizing makes public figures appear weak and risk averse, which may make them less likeable and lead members of the public to want to punish them. This paper presents the results of an experiment in which respondents were given two versions of two real-life controversies involving public figures. Approximately half of the participants read a story that made it appear as if the person had apologized, while the rest were led to believe that the individual had stood firm. In the first experiment, hearing that Rand Paul apologized for his comments on civil rights did not change whether respondents were less likely to vote for him. When presented with two versions of the controversy surrounding Larry Summers and his comments about women scientists and engineers, however, liberals and females were more likely to say that he should have faced negative consequences for his statement when presented with his apology. The effects on other groups were smaller or neutral. The evidence suggests that when a prominent figure apologizes for a controversial statement, individuals are either unaffected or become more likely to desire that the individual be punished.

2019. "Are Liberal Governments More Cooperative? Voting Trends at the UN in Five Anglophone Democracies." Journal of Conflict Resolution 63(6): 1403–32.

Among both elites and the mass public, conservatives and liberal differ in their foreign policy preferences. Relatively little effort, however, has been put toward showing that, beyond the use of force, these differences affect the day-to-day outputs and processes of foreign policy. This article uses United Nations voting data from 1946 to 2008 of the five major Anglophone democracies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to show that each of these countries votes more in line with the rest of the world when liberals are in power. This can be explained by ideological differences between conservatives and liberals and the ways in which the socializing power of international institutions interact with preexisting ideologies. The results hope to encourage more research into the ways in which ideological differences among the masses and elites translate into differences in foreign policy goals and practices across governments.

2017. “Government-Sponsored Mass Killing and Civil War Reoccurrence." International Studies Quarterly 61(3): 677–89 (with Gary Uzonyi).

Why do civil wars reoccur? Some scholars emphasize the role of post-war factors, while others locate the causes of civil war recurrence in the dynamics of the conflicts themselves. We build a theory that bridges these arguments by focusing on mass killing. We argue that government mass killing during war reduces opportunities for the opposition to return to military conflict in the future. This allows for longer periods of post-conflict peace. However, government atrocities that begin after the end of a civil war create new grievances without diminishing the ability of opponents to fight. This makes a faster return to conflict more likely. Statistical analysis of all civil wars between 1946 and 2006 strongly supports our arguments, even when we account for selection effects regarding when governments are more likely to engage in mass killing. These results reveal that both during-war and post-war tactics influence civil war recurrence, but that the same tactic can produce different effects depending on the timing of its use.

2017. “Tracing the Development of the Nuclear Taboo: The Eisenhower Administration and Four Crises in East Asia.” Journal of Cold War Studies 19(2): 43–83.

Many scholars have argued that a taboo on the use of nuclear weapons became widely accepted in the 1960s, spurred on by the Cuban missile crisis and the subsequent growth of U.S. and Soviet long-range nuclear missile forces. The Eisenhower administration, in contrast, has been seen as relatively more willing to use nuclear diplomacy to achieve its military objectives. This article examines the Eisenhower administration's attitudes toward nuclear weapons during four crises in East Asia: the end of the Korean War, the siege of Dien Bien Phu, and the shelling of Quemoy and Matsu in 1954–1955 and 1958. U.S. officials at first acted almost as if nuclear weapons were simply “bigger bombs,” but as the decade progressed, nuclear weapons were increasingly seen as all but unusable. Much of the confusion regarding Dwight Eisenhower's attitude toward this issue resulted from changes over time and the complex interactions he had with members of his administration who argued for a more aggressive stance toward foreign enemies.

2017. “The Personalities of Politicians: A Big Five Survey of American Legislators.” Personality and Individual Differences 108(1): 164–67.

This study uses the Big Five framework to investigate personality differences between politicians and the general public and between politicians themselves based on ideology and party identification. A 50-item Big Five questionnaire was taken by 2586 respondents at the Open Psychology data website and 278 American state legislators. The author finds that politicians are more Extraverted, Agreeable, Emotionally Stable, and Conscientious than the general public. At the same time, they are slightly lower on Intellect/Imagination. All results are statistically significant for all traits and both sexes, except with regards to females and Intellect. When comparing politicians to one another and controlling for demographic variables, Republicans score higher on Conscientiousness and lower on Intellect and Agreeableness. These findings hold for a smaller sample when ideology is the dependent variable, although only Intellect/Imagination reaches statistical significance. Conservative ideology is also associated with Emotional Stability. The results show important differences between politicians and the public, and reveal personality differences among elites that are in some ways analogous to the results we find in more representative samples.

2015. “Behavioral Economics and Free Market Solutions: The Case of Airline Security.” Homeland and National Security Law Review 3(1): 1–32.

In most of the legal literature, how descriptive questions are answered often determine what normative suggestions an author makes. Rational choice theories are usually associated with free market policy recommendations, while partisans of the behavioral law and economics approach tend to advocate more paternalistic measures. This Article turns this traditional framework on its head, arguing that occasionally a behaviorist orientation can recommend the adoption of laissez-faire policies. The issue of airline security is used to demonstrate the point. People overestimate the risks of flying and terrorism, and empirical works suggests that government has gone too far in trying to protect consumers from themselves. This paper suggests that airline security be privatized or at least heavily deregulated, and invites further research into non -paternalistic implications of behavioral law and economics.

2013. “Norms Governing the Interstate Use of Force: Explaining the Status Quo Bias of International Law.” Emory International Law Review 27(2): 829–905.

In this Article, the author argues against the standard view that there is no  coherent and effective doctrine of international law regarding the interstate use of force. It is generally held that states interact with one another in a state of anarchy, at least when it comes to national security. After defining international law, I show that this is not completely accurate. Reflecting a status quo bias, classic invasions and territorial aggrandizement through force are illegal. Since 1945, states that have undertaken classic invasions have generally been sanctioned, and no state has taken territory from another by force since 1976.  Part II presents a model that explains how norms not enforced by  a centralized authority can have an impact on state behavior. I rely on political psychology and behavioral economics literature to show that the normative influence of law can cause states to  refrain from attacking one another and the global community to sanction aggressors. The model as an explanatory tool is made even more plausible by  investigations into earlier examples of the power of ideas to change state behavior and the finding that materialist or economic explanations of the status quo bias of international law are at best incomplete.

2012. "The Failure of State Building in Afghanistan." The Journal Jurisprudence 16: 583–85.

For ten years, the United States and coalition forces have been struggling to build a functioning state in Afghanistan. The author reviews The Rule of Law in Afghanistan, a compilation of articles by scholars on the efforts to establish
the rule of law in that war-torn country. The picture that the scholars paint is a bleak one, and undermines the claims of several of the contributors that the situation could have turned out differently with more of a commitment to legality on the part of the international community.

2012. “Humanitarian Intervention and the War Powers Debate.” The Journal Jurisprudence 13: 47–101.

War powers scholars debate whether Congress should have the exclusive ability to declare war. While this is the system that the Founders created, some hold that the modern world requires a stronger executive. All war powers scholars, however, make the same realist assumptions that were held by the Founding generation. The author argues that war powers scholars neglect the existence of American idealism in international relations, and humanitarian intervention in particular. The author goes on to conduct a functional analysis of what placing the war powers back in congressional hands would mean for humanitarian intervention and finds that without an executive power to unilaterally use force abroad, there would be few or no humanitarian interventions undertaken.

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