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

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

Chapter 13
Factors in the Use of Argumentation Rules

The literature on the explanation of argumentation rules mentions situational and personal characteristics as possibly being of influence. Summarizing the literature with respect to the effects of crisis on decision-making, Holsti ( 1979) claimed that crisis can either diminish the cognitive abilities of decision-makers or enhance their ability to make rational and calculated choices. Brecher and Geist's findings ( 1980) on crisis and cognitive performance gave mixed results, and they concluded that the abilities of decision-makers were at least not wholly impaired. Another situational characteristic mentioned in the literature (e.g., Lentner 1972; Hermann 1974) that is supposed to have an impact on decision- making is an individual's belief in his ability to exercise control over the future. The presence of this characteristic can lead to a calculated choice, while its absence is supposed to produce less calculated choices. In crisis situations, furthermore, control over events is supposed to be reduced. The first observation we can make is that decisions are made in a different way in situations that are perceived as threatening to interests, with an increased probability of war, limited decision time (crisis) and reduced control over the future, than in situations not perceived as threatening. Personal characteristics such as an individual's cognitive style are also mentioned in the literature (e.g., Hermann 1974; Arroba 1977; George 1980) as having an impact on decision-making. Individuals differ in their way of processing and evaluating information, with some perceiving the environment as more complex than others.

Given these suggestions from the literature, we distinguished between crisis and noncrisis situations. In crisis situations, decision-makers can be expected either to be more careful and use more complex argumentation rules, which means that either they indicate utilities with intensities or probabilities (Classes II, III, Table 2.4) or they use simpler rules without indicating intensities of utilities or probabilities (Class IV, Table 2.4) because of diminished cognitive abilit-

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