Trust, Cooperation, and Conflict: Neuropolitics and International Relations

  • Jacek Kugler
  • Paul J. ZakEmail author


Neuroeconomics or the study of brain activity illuminates how choices are made. Kugler and Zak show how oxytocin impacts brain chemistry and levels of trust, with possible implications for decision-making, and, in turn, conflict and cooperation. They offer a challenge to realist theory by questioning its assumptions about a fully Hobbesian world and by incorporating the notion of trust into our thinking and modeling as well. We are misled by the over-emphasis on anarchy at the systemic level to the neglect of sub-systemic variables such as trust and the neuroscience aspects that help shape it. Kugler and Zak argue that willingness to accept international rules that restrict behavior and help avoid conflict depends critically on the level of trust. While they recognize that numerous variables influence cooperation, and that realists certainly do hold out the prospect for cooperation even if that is difficult to achieve, they believe that our understanding of trust is under-developed as is the role of neuroscience in influencing our decisions. Their chapter combines the path-breaking work of Paul Zak in the laboratory with Kugler’s enormous record in international relations.


European Union Foreign Policy Trust Game International Relation North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International RelationsClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremont, CAUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremont, CAUSA

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