The Rational-Cognitive Debate and Poliheuristic Theory

  • Vesna Danilovic
Part of the Advances in Foreign Policy Analysis book series (AFPA)


It is commonly assumed that the validity of any theory should be judged against some or all of the following requirements and evaluating criteria: (1) descriptive accuracy; (2) internal logical coherence; and (3) predictive accuracy. In the rational-cognitive debate in international relations, cognitive psychologists tend to stress the importance of descriptive accuracy, while rational choice theorists emphasize the internal logical coherence and high predictive power. These different views correspond to the commonly shared beliefs about the relative performance of the two approaches. It is generally believed that cognitive approaches outperform rational choice in their empirical descriptions, while the rational choice theory tends to be more successful in meeting the other two requirements.


Foreign Policy Rational Choice Hard Core Rational Choice Theory Cognitive Approach 
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© Alex Mintz 2003

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  • Vesna Danilovic

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