The Many Faces of Credibility: Hawks, Doves, and Nuclear Disarmament

Don Casler, David Ribar, Keren Yarhi-Milo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The conventional wisdom in international relations holds that an actor’s past record of keeping her word determines her cooperative credibility, and that mutual perceptions of credibility are essential in sustaining cooperation. Yet competing reputation-skeptic and psychological perspectives dispute this conventional wisdom, suggesting that assessments of cooperative credibility result from observers’ judgments about the other’s capabilities and interests or observers’ foreign policy orientations. How do observers assess others’ cooperative credibility? We field a nationally representative survey experiment asking 2,953 Americans to evaluate a hypothetical coercer’s commitment to lift sanctions on a would-be proliferator in exchange for the latter dismantling its nascent nuclear program. We vary the coercer’s previous behavior plus several other contextual factors. We find that respondents’ hawkishness interacts with the coercer’s past actions to shape respondents’ credibility assessments and their support for the proliferator accepting the proposal, with substantial implications for theories of misperception and bargaining.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-445
Number of pages33
JournalSecurity Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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