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Rallies and the “First Imageâ€


  • Dennis M. Foster

    (Virginia Military Institute, USA)

  • Jonathan W. Keller

    (James Madison University, USA)


Despite considerable scholarship regarding the degree to which the international use of force generates popular rallies, no work has addressed the possibility that leaders’ managerial philosophies and psychological predispositions systematically influence their assessments of whether or not diversion “works†. In this article, we test hypotheses—conceived through direct reference to work in political psychology—which suggest that the degree to which presidents are innately concerned with the maintenance of the American “in-group†is an important predictor of whether they scapegoat international “out-groups†and, by extension, whether they choose strategies of diversionary foreign conflict or more cordial foreign engagement when facing domestic problems. Several analyses of American foreign policy behavior for the period 1953—2000 produce findings that clearly are at odds with these hypotheses, in that in-group biased presidents are actually less likely to use force and more likely to attend superpower summits when faced with a poor economy. We believe that these unexpected findings have serious implications for both the psychological study of international conflict and the plausibility of the “traditional†diversionary hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Dennis M. Foster & Jonathan W. Keller, 2010. "Rallies and the “First Imageâ€," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 27(5), pages 417-441, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:27:y:2010:i:5:p:417-441

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel G. Arce M. & Todd Sandler, 2005. "Counterterrorism," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(2), pages 183-200, April.
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    6. Joao Ricardo Faria & Daniel Arce, 2005. "Terror Support And Recruitment," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 263-273.
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