Fight-or-Flight or Tend-and-Befriend? Stress and the Political Psychology of Crisis Diplomacy

Fight-or-Flight or Tend-and-Befriend? Stress and the Political Psychology of Crisis Diplomacy Crisis Diplomacy and Stress As the practice of diplomacy is increasingly conducted under conditions of permanent crisis, understanding the psychological and emotional effects of crisis itself becomes important to conceptualizing the changing nature of diplomatic interactions. Diplomacy is particularly affected by crisis because of crises’ effects on diplomacy practitioners, the individuals involved. As Alex Mintz and Karl DeRouen put it, ‘[i]ndividuals are critically important during times of crisis’, and the environmental factors affecting individuals in times of crisis, such as time and information constraints, ambiguity and risk have identifiable, and predictable, effects on individuals’. 1 One environmental factor in particular, stress, which has long been believed to be harmful for decision-making and detrimental to pro-social behaviours, has witnessed renewed interest from psychologists and neuroscientists. Recent studies indicate a more complex relationship between stress and social outcomes, including pro-social behaviours such as trust-building, friendship creation and understanding intentions. This short contribution argues that stress has divergent effects in crisis diplomacy. High levels of stress often result in sub-optimal decisions, but may also increase the likelihood of building trust and understanding intentions. Consequently, the state of permanent crisis may offer new opportunities for leadership, particularly in the exercise of personal http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Brill

Fight-or-Flight or Tend-and-Befriend? Stress and the Political Psychology of Crisis Diplomacy

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Forum
ISSN
1871-1901
eISSN
1871-191X
D.O.I.
10.1163/1871191X-12341302
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Crisis Diplomacy and Stress As the practice of diplomacy is increasingly conducted under conditions of permanent crisis, understanding the psychological and emotional effects of crisis itself becomes important to conceptualizing the changing nature of diplomatic interactions. Diplomacy is particularly affected by crisis because of crises’ effects on diplomacy practitioners, the individuals involved. As Alex Mintz and Karl DeRouen put it, ‘[i]ndividuals are critically important during times of crisis’, and the environmental factors affecting individuals in times of crisis, such as time and information constraints, ambiguity and risk have identifiable, and predictable, effects on individuals’. 1 One environmental factor in particular, stress, which has long been believed to be harmful for decision-making and detrimental to pro-social behaviours, has witnessed renewed interest from psychologists and neuroscientists. Recent studies indicate a more complex relationship between stress and social outcomes, including pro-social behaviours such as trust-building, friendship creation and understanding intentions. This short contribution argues that stress has divergent effects in crisis diplomacy. High levels of stress often result in sub-optimal decisions, but may also increase the likelihood of building trust and understanding intentions. Consequently, the state of permanent crisis may offer new opportunities for leadership, particularly in the exercise of personal

Journal

The Hague Journal of DiplomacyBrill

Published: Jan 27, 2015

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