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Title: Essays on the Behavioral Foundations of Disputes over Intangibly Valued Territory
Authors: Bauer, Fin
Advisors: TruexRamsay, RoryKristopher W.
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Why do people often care deeply about territory with little material value? What makes conflicts over intangibly valued territory particularly volatile and intractable? This dissertation explores the behavioral foundations of disputes over intangibly valued territory. I study the intangible benefits that people derive from contesting and possessing territory, how these benefits shape individual attitudes toward conflict, and the consequences of these attitudes for state-level conflict. I begin by re-examining existing theories of disputes over intangibly valued territory. First, I study concerns about the beliefs of other states, such as concerns about one’s nation’s honor or prestige, which have been raised as a plausible motivation for disputes over materially useless territory. Refining existing theories, I show that image variation generally has ambiguous effects on conflict incentives. Increases in image can encourage and discourage conflict, suggesting that concerns about the image afforded by other states may play a highly conditional role in conflicts over intangibly valued territory. Second, I study territorial indivisibility, arguably the most popular explanation for the intractability of disputes over intangibly valued territory. I propose a novel measure of indivisibility and apply the measure to key disputed territories that are generally deemed indivisible. Strikingly, I find that few people view any of the territories as indivisible, casting doubt on territorial indivisibility as a viable explanation for disputes over intangibly valued territory. Third, I build on the preceding insights to propose a new theory explaining the intractability of territorial disputes over intangibly valued territory. I argue that individuals are motivated by moral image concerns and choose conflict attitudes to optimally signal their commitment to the morals or identities embodied by the territory. I show that moral image concerns provide a parsimonious explanation for conflict that overcomes key shortcomings of existing theories and rationalizes a host of puzzles raised in the literature on disputes over intangibly valued territory.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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