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Keywords:

  • prospect theory;
  • group polarization;
  • framing;
  • loss aversion;
  • decision-making;
  • international relations

International relations theorists have tried to adapt prospect theory to make it relevant to the study of real-world decision-making and testable beyond the constraints of the laboratory. Three experiments with undergraduate samples were conducted in an effort to clarify the advantages and limitations of prospect theory as adapted to explain political behavior. The first experiment tested hypotheses regarding the impact of prospect framing on group polarization, but these were only weakly supported. The second and third experiments examined alternative adaptations of the concept of framing; the results suggest that the political science expansion of the concept of framing may, under certain conditions, produce clear and robust preference reversals.