Peaceful dyads: A territorial perspective

Andrew P. Owsiak, John A. Vasquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many dyads develop peaceful relationships, avoiding war for long, historical periods. Are such dyads common? How many exist, and why have they never fought? This study provides a territorial perspective on peaceful dyads, defined as those that never fight a war over a given historical period. It compares two explanations for why peaceful dyads exist: the territorial peace and the democratic peace. A series of hypotheses test the relative ability of these two theories to account for peaceful dyads. The tests employ three samples–all dyads, politically relevant dyads, and grievance dyads–from 1816–2001, with an emphasis on the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. Through our analyses, we produce three major findings. First, the absence of territorial conflict–but not democracy–predicts peaceful dyads. Second, the absence of territorial disagreements appears in the vast majority (i.e., 85–96%) of peaceful dyads. Finally, approximately, 93–98% of democratic dyads lack any territorial disagreements. This implies that democratic dyads are peaceful because they face different issues than non-democratic dyads–ones less likely to undermine the development of peaceful, dyadic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1040-1068
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • conflict
  • democratic peace
  • interstate peace
  • philosophy of science
  • Territorial peace
  • war

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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