Anarchy is said to be the basic requirement of the international system. Its equivalent at the level of individual human experience is the emotion of anxiety. Classical realists like Thomas Hobbes believed that fear played a crucial role in creating our social institutions; Machiavelli advised the prince that it was much safer to be “feared than loved” because the “fear of punishment” never fails. and Thucydides before them hypothesized that “prestige, fear and selfishness” are indeed the strongest motives of political actors.
This article focuses on fear and provides a brief overview of the state of the art of emotion research in international relations (IR). It contains ways of applying theories of emotion in foreign policy analysis. As part of the “affective turn” in the social sciences, scientists from politics and IR have once again turned their attention to fear, anger and other different emotions. The renewed interest is in part piqued by contributions from psychology and the life sciences, which have added new facets to our understanding of emotion. Most importantly, the work of Antonio Damasio (1994) and others has shown that the traditional dichotomy between emotion and knowledge is no longer tenable. This has hardly made affective phenomena easier to grasp. However, the complexity of emotions shouldn’t prevent us from incorporating them into our research. Indeed it could be because Because of their versatility, emotions may offer analytical leverage and a new approach to working on familiar issues in the discipline: making theory more applicable to cases, connecting actors and structures, and integrating the process and results of foreign policy decision-making.
In order to apply affective science to IR, a workable definition and conceptualization of emotions must be worked out. First of all, we have to distinguish between different phenomena. Influence is an umbrella term that includes emotions, feelings or moods. They all relate to the way embodied mental processes and the felt dimensions of human experience influence thinking and behavior (Damasio 2010: 174-75). Feelings are best understood as a subjective representation of emotions that are private to the individual experiencing them. Moods are more diffuse affective states that are generally longer lasting and less intense. The term emotion is usually reserved for an affective reaction that has a certain cognitive profile and a socially recognizable expression such as “anger” or “fear”. Outside of affective neuroscience and related areas, the two terms are often used synonymously.
There is some debate about the attribute that distinguishes emotions from affects – whether individual emotions can actually be categorized or distinguished. This decision is crucial for any attempt to place emotions in the context of “traditional” IR-theoretical paradigms. The relevant literature leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to the complexity and opaqueness of emotions: It is a broad term that describes “interrelated causal effects”, which are made up of “situational clues”, “physiological changes”, ” Emotional designations “and” emotions “consist of” expressive gestures “(Thoits, 1990). Emotions are found between nature and care as “a large number of differentiated, biologically based complexes that at least consist of (n) mutually transforming interactions between biological systems (e.g. cognition, physiology, psychology) and physical and sociocultural ”(McDermott 2004: 692). Their complexity could be one reason why IR has apparently mastered the challenge of integrating emotions by evading them, as Janice Bially Mattern (2011: 63) accuses. There are few conceptualizations of emotions, let alone categorizations of different ones that can easily be applied to the work of the social scientist.
An exception is valuation theory, which was first formulated by Richard Lazarus (1991). rating refers to the process of constructing emotional meaning within the relationship of the individual and his environment. The basic premise is that emotions are adaptive responses that indicate the assessment of environmental conditions for the “well-being” of the individual. Well-being, in turn, depends on whether the individual regards objects or events as beneficial or hindering for their well-being Concerns. A concern denotes a “persistent tendency to favor certain states of the world” (Frijda 1988: 351), including the needs, attachments, values, current goals and beliefs of the individual. The assessment also determines the intensity and quality of the resulting feelings, action tendencies, physiological reactions and ultimately behavior. Lazarus’ work was groundbreaking because it specified the role of knowledge in generating an emotional response. Valuation theory also introduced freedom of choice and enabled crucial differentiation in relation to an event caused by oneself, another person, interpersonal circumstances or environmental factors over which no one has control.
Each emotion is defined by a unique relational meaning that summarizes personal harm and benefits that lie in the specific relationship between humans and the environment. When someone thinks that an event could harm or benefit them – relative to what they expected – innate behavioral tendencies. and “coping processes” are triggered (Lazarus 1991). Depending on the attribution, the same concern can evoke different emotions, as shown in the following figure. As new information is assessed by the individual, the emotional response may shift between variants of “fear”, “anger” or other elaborations (i.e. combinations) of emotions. The figure is based on the emotion theories of Lazarus (1991) and Theodore Kemper and Randall Collins (1990).
Valuation theories have been criticized for not taking enough cultural differences into account. Anna Wierzbicka argues, for example, that Lazarus underestimated the language problem. He had not properly defined central emotional phenomena such as “anger”. Even if his interpretation fit the use of the English word “anger”, there would still be no reason to consider the emotion identified by that word as one that has universal meaning beyond those identified by emotion terms in other languages “(Wierzbicka 1995: 248).
IR was receptive to such criticism and proceeded cautiously. One could argue that it is too cautious to take full advantage of the now extensive research on emotions in various disciplines. Andrew Ross rightly claims that emotions are compound phenomena made up of “various [individual] Emotion types. “While its true“ psychological dimensions ”may only be accessible in“ clinical settings ”, the observation that“ the social world of global politics is too chaotic for a standard application of categories from psychology ”(Ross 2014): 3) offers not enough reasons to give up terms like “anger” or “fear” entirely. Taking inspiration from mid-20th century realists, I suggest that recognizing the complexity of emotions shouldn’t prevent us from calling things by their names – socially recognizable affective responses with different names such as “fear” and “anger” .
A survey of interdisciplinary research leaves four generally accepted “primary” emotions: fear, anger, happiness, and sadness (Turner 2000: 68-69). They occur universally across cultures and are even shared by mammals. At first glance, it is noticeable that three out of four are negative and thus work against social solidarity. Other researchers have found that eight out of nine “major emotion taxonomies” privilege negative emotions (Rozin and Royzman 2001: 311). Indeed, the evidence suggests that humans, as evolved apes, do not have strong group instincts or behavioral tendencies (Turner and Maryanski 2005). In order for the organization of hominid groups, and therefore modern societies, to function, natural selection had to find a way to mitigate the dissociative power of negative primary emotions. Turner suggests that even negative emotions can enable people to create closer social bonds when combined with “happiness” (or “contentment”) (Turner 2007: 9). Turner calls the result “elaborations” of primary emotions such as gratitude, pride, triumph, hope or consolation. Since these more complex elaborations of emotions have proven to be “successful adaptation, natural selection has further enhanced this ability” (Turner 2007: 8).
There is another reason evolution might have privileged “bad” feelings. In simple terms, social life is much more interesting and political decisions more important when “bad” consequences arise. The fact that focusing on the negative has proven essential to the success or survival of human evolution is part of the reason why political science (and the underlying social psychological models) has prioritized negative information, like Johnson and Tierney (2018) argue. Prospectus theory has already introduced this insight into IR by emphasizing that potential losses weigh much more heavily on decision-makers than potential gains (Kahneman and Tversky 1979, Taliaferro 2010).
Aside from disagreements about what they are, theories of emotion differ between disciplines depending on the specific aspect of emotionality that is of interest and how it appears in research design. In the areas of political science and IR, the following topics have been studied the most since “emotion” was on the agenda of researchers in the late 1990s: the implicit affective foundations of traditional theoretical paradigms (e.g. Freyberg-Inan 2004, Lebow 2003); the effect of emotions on the perception of the individual in rational choice models or on the process of identity formation (Mercer 2005, Ross 2006); the role of emotions in decision-making (McDermott 2011, Gross Stein 2013); the relationship between emotions and certain key areas of international politics such as diplomacy and statecraft (Crawford 2014, Holmes 2018), violent conflict (Hutchinson and Bleiker 2008, Ross 2014, Ahäll and Gregory 2015), ethics (Jeffery 2011) or strategy (Mercer 2013) ; or the intentional and performative representation of emotions for strategic reasons (Petersen 2011, Halle 2015).
Researchers working on affects in IR will inevitably have to answer how to distinguish between the intentional, “instrumental” display of emotions and the actors’ spontaneous (and sometimes unintentional) expression that might reveal their true goals. Unfortunately, there will be no sure way of telling them apart as long as political leaders are reluctant to undergo brain imaging during their day. Ultimately, as Andrei Tsygankov suggests, “both versions agree that emotions should be read in the context of the international competition for power, status and prestige” (Tsygankov 2014: 347).
When experiences and cognitive beliefs differ from one another with regard to risks, “emotional reactions often lead to behavior” (Loewenstein et al. 2001: 267). Observations like this should not be construed to mean that decisions are always made “on a whim.” Rather, the challenge for rationalist approaches lies in the fact that the dichotomy between rational choice and “emotionality”, where the term “irrationality” is used, no longer holds. We now know that emotional responses are a central component in the decision-making process. Information must be evaluated emotionally in order to enable rational thinking and decision-making. Emotional reactions cannot be generated without prior cognitive assessment (Damasio 1994). Nevertheless, most work on emotion in the IR still positions the phenomenon within a rational selection framework and goes away a cognitivistic perspective based on a traditional understanding of computational theories of mind (Putnam 1979) and a focus on factors known and understood.Other aspects of lived experience, when taken into account, are subordinate to the assumption of the rational actor.
anxiety and other primary emotions (in particular anger) have certain characteristics that make them difficult to represent within rationalist paradigms. Rational choice theory has failed to explain why and under what circumstances a reaction with fear could serve a strategic purpose. An example where fear has an implicit function is Schelling’s (1966) “Madmen Theory”, in that actors might display fear and despair to signal their willingness to act in the most “irrational” way. Loewenstein et al. argue that our traditional “consequentialist” models are insufficient to describe behavior well in the face of risk because of the differences “between the calculation of objective risk and the determinants of fear” and the “extent to which fear is an important part “Risk-related behavior” (Loewenstein et al. 2008: 280). Fear of terrorism, for example, is felt by the public long after an attack, although the real risk of being harmed by a terrorist attack is always low or even lower than before due to increased security measures.
Fear itself is a broad term that encompasses experiences ranging from terror to mild fear. Variants of lower intensity fear can operate at subconscious levels and add subjective valences to our perceptions, attitudes and thoughts (Ortony et al., 1988), making them a crucial factor in decision-making. This type of fear is more than a passing feeling. It does not immediately subside once the perceived threat is gone. As neuroscientific research has shown, conditioned anxiety can last longer than other types of learned experience and even become permanent (Gray 1979: 302, Quirk et al. 2006, Delgado et al. 2008). If fear becomes embedded over time, it can lead to hypervigilance.
Either through self-reinforcing mechanisms or intentionally used by political actors to shape public opinion, the fearful experience causes individuals to become more aware of potential future threats. The fearful are not only worse at calculating the costs, risks, and benefits of their decisions, but often fail to see how their behavior, even if thought of as defensive, can be viewed as threatening – adding to the already cognitive bias’ (Crawford 2009: 278). People also tend to summarize and treat all the individual causes that might have produced an anxious reaction “even if they are otherwise perceptually, functionally, and theoretically different” (Niedenthal et al. 1999: 338). Experiences that are accompanied by fear create strong emotional memories. Once conditioned, an anxious response can be triggered by a similar event that is remembered even when there is no actual threat. Such conditioned reactions are difficult to quench and can “recur spontaneously” or “be restored through stressful experiences” (LeDoux 2002: 396).
In the context of IR, all of this means that “emotions and charged emotional relationships can permeate the international system and the original cause of emotions can persist for a long time”, as Crawford (2014: 548) states. Tales of hostility or aggression can make fearful environments self-sustaining even though the initial threat has disappeared. Far beyond politically meaningful narratives, “Fear and hostility towards the body of people with elevated cortisol and other stress hormones, hyper-arousal and a tendency to seek and remember threats and damage in the past” (ibid.) Are written.Institutionally, it can be embodied in “perceptions, routines, expectations, military doctrines and forces” (ibid). Similar to the way ideology and worldview influence an individual’s perception and the range of policy options they consider, fear can act as a filter through which institutional actors perceive other institutions or states. Information that runs counter to the established point of view of the other side and the threat it poses is more likely to be filtered out.
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