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Key New Findings on the Psychological Causes of War

War and Happiness - The Role of Temperament in the Assessment of Resolve by Peter S. Jenkins, PhD is now available from Palgrave Macmillan

TORONTO, July 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Accurately assessing adversaries' resolve (their willingness to go to war) is critically important for leaders, politicians and diplomats to be able to prevent the miscalculations that result in the outbreaks of catastrophic global and regional conflicts. However, to date, such assessments have proven to be notoriously unreliable. This groundbreaking book aims to remedy that problem by presenting new research which will provide decision-makers with greater self-awareness of how their own temperaments affect their assessments of the resolve of adversaries. This research indicates that leaders, politicians and diplomats with depressive temperaments tend to under-estimate the resolve of their states' adversaries, while those with non-depressive ones tend to over-estimate it. The book also finds that there are long-term trends in the happiness levels of national legislatures and that war breaks out due to the under-estimation of the adversary's resolve during periods of declining happiness and breaks out due to its over-estimation when happiness levels are rising.

The author uses an innovative methodology involving the psycholinguistic text mining of the U.S. Congressional Record (4 billion words) and the British Hansard (1.6 billion words) as well as key political addresses and statements, to determine the frequencies of 158 sadness words derived from the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program. The book is also based on case studies of the origins of twelve wars with Anglo-American involvement from 1853 to 2003. It includes a discussion of the temperaments of President Donald Trump and his inner circle of advisors in the context of ongoing tensions between America and Syria, Iran and North Korea. The cutting-edge nature of the book is noted by Columbia University's Robert Jervis, the author of How Statesmen Think, who observes that "Jenkins' rare combination of psychological theorizing and archival research in several countries and time periods yields a fascinating new take on the central question of when states over-estimate or under-estimate others' resolve. The biases that leaders and elites fall prey to appear to vary with their emotional states and senses of well-being, factors that most scholars have ignored."

Jenkins teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, Canada and recently taught in the Faculty of Law of Monash University in Prato, Italy. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

For more information, please visit the Palgrave Macmillan web site: 

Media Contact: Peter S. Jenkins, PhD                                                 
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Twitter: @petersjenkins   #WarandHappiness 


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