World Politics in Their Minds: Political Psychology, Constructivism, and International Relations Theory

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



I explore two literatures that challenge dominant rationalist IR literature, one old and one new. I contend that political psychology and constructivism often address the same problems and yet have largely avoided each other as perspectives. This paper seeks to link the two literatures, pointing out their commonalities, as well as their respective strengths and weaknesses and how they complement each other. I argue that psychological assumptions provide essential girding for constructivism or any theorizing, but that psychological explanations must be contextualized to account for the sociocultural and political environment in which decision-makers operate. Together, political psychology and constructivism pose a robust challenge to strengthen if not subsume rationalism as a lens for understanding international relations.


Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, August 28-31, 2003.