Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

By Irmtraud N. Gallhofer; Willem E. Saris | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
The Decision Rules Are Universal

It has been shown that decision-makers do not specify the argumentation rules that must lead to their choices. It seems (see, e.g., Chapter 6) that they assumed these rules were obvious to their audiences. We have suggested that this means it must be possible to discover this "obvious rule" that correctly predicts their choice. Second, we also have to show that this decision rule is indeed obvious to others. Both points require quantitative research. Studies on both points will be reported in this chapter.

First of all, the hypothesis that an obvious rule can be found will be studied, as already suggested, by first determining the class of decision problem on the basis of the problem description. After that, the decision rules of this class will be tested to investigate whether one can predict the suggested strategy. If our hypothesis is correct, the result of this test on a sample of arguments should be nearly perfect. As a side effect of this study, we will also see how frequently the different decision rules are used.

Given that we can predict the choices by applying a number of argumentation rules, the question remains whether the decision-makers and the general population actually applied the argumentation rules that we expect. If people in general are able to recognize the argumentation rule when presented with the information provided by the politicians, this would indicate that the expected rules are generally obvious for human decision-makers and do not have to be mentioned explicitly. The second part of the chapter deals with the test of this hypothesis.


DO THE EXPECTED DECISION RULES PREDICT THE CHOSEN STRATEGY?

In Chapter 2 it was shown that decision rules can be divided into four different classes according to the information concerning the probabilities and

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