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Nuclear Proliferation and the Use of Nuclear Options: Experimental Tests

Political Research Quarterly, Forthcoming

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-20

35 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2012 Last revised: 14 Dec 2015

Kai Quek

The University of Hong Kong

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 1, 2012

Abstract

The causes and prevention of nuclear war are critical to human survival but difficult to study empirically, as observations of nuclear war do not actually exist in the real world. The literature on nuclear war has remained largely theoretical as a consequence. To circumvent the observational constraint, this article investigates the impact of proliferation with laboratory-based nuclear-option games that experimentally manipulate the number of players (N) with a nuclear option. Results show that decisions are mostly peaceful in the dyadic N=2 condition despite the existence of nuclear options with a relative first-strike advantage. However, a jump beyond N=2 in the crisis interaction significantly sharpens the propensity to use the nuclear option. The findings highlight an avenue of research that evaluates mechanisms of nuclear war experimentally, moving research beyond the theoretical domain.

Suggested Citation

Quek, Kai, Nuclear Proliferation and the Use of Nuclear Options: Experimental Tests (June 1, 2012). Political Research Quarterly, Forthcoming; MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2117364 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2117364

Kai Quek (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Pokfulam HK
China

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