Title page for ETD etd-10272005-123634

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Robison, Samuel
Author's Email Address srobis2@lsu.edu
URN etd-10272005-123634
Title The Influence of Presidential Operational Code Beliefs on U.S. Foreign Policy Actions in the Middle East
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mark Schafer Committee Chair
David Sobek Committee Member
Leonard Ray Committee Member
  • agency
  • individual level of analysis
Date of Defense 2005-08-09
Availability unrestricted
Empirical research on U.S. foreign policy has largely assumed that the president’s influence is subordinate to global and domestic political constraints. This idea is given further weight by the fact that, even within the political psychology literature, there is scant large-n, quantitative evidence supporting the notion that leaders matter. This study is an attempt to explore the influence of U.S. presidential psychological characteristics on foreign policy actions through assessment of two operational code constructs: “image of the political universe” (P-1), and “strategic preferences” (I-1). This is assessed through an extensive sample of operational code beliefs for every president from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. The dependent variable of policy actions is measured with event data. Findings show that previous actions by the U.S. toward the Middle East, previous actions by Middle Eastern states toward the U.S., and the president’s perceived image of the political universe are significantly related to foreign policy outcomes. This supports the policy continuity argument that pre-existing policies influence U.S. policies in the present, the policy reciprocation/escalation argument that the U.S. is influenced by what other states do, and the psychological argument that elites influence outcomes based on their personal belief systems.
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