June 3, 2023

How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics


Robert Jervis (April 30, 1940 – December 9, 2021) was an American political scientist who was the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. Jervis was co-editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, a series published by Cornell University Press.

He is known for his contributions to political psychology, international relations theory, nuclear strategy, and intelligence studies. According to the Open Syllabus Project, Jervis is the twelfth most-frequently cited author on college syllabi for political science courses.

Video Title: How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics. Source: WoodrowWilsonCenter. Date Published: April 5, 2019. Description:

Decision-makers and scholars often assume that diplomatic signals are received as they are intended. They have faith in both their ability to convey their messages to others and to correctly interpret others’ behavior. Robert Jervis’ research shows that this is not true and that international politics often resembles the famous Japanese movie Rashomon. Perceptions are strongly influenced by people’s theories and expectations on the one hand and their personal and political needs on the other. Both historical scholarship and policy-making would be improved by an understanding of how people perceive. 

Robert Jervis is Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University. His most recent book is How Statesmen Think, and his other books include Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War, American Foreign Policy in a New Era, System Effects: Complexity in Political Life, and The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution. He was President of the American Political Science Association in 2000-01, and was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Venice and Oberlin College. In 2006 he received the National Academy of Science’s tri-annual award for behavioral sciences contributions to avoiding nuclear war.