The Kennedy Experiment

The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. XX, No. 2, Part 1, June, 1967

20 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: June 1967


The patter of events between June 10 and November 22,1963, provided a partial test of a theory of international relations. The essence of the theory is that psychological gestures initiated by one nation will be reciprocated by others with the effect of reducing international tensions. This tension reduction, in turn, will lessen the probability of international conflicts and wars.

Examining this theory in light of the 1963 experiment, I ask: (a) What are the main propositions of the theory? (b) What initiatives were actually taken by the United States in the experiment period, and how did the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics react? (c) What were the effects of these initiatives and responses on inter-bloc relations, and to what degree did these effects conform to the expectations of the theory? (d) What other factors, not accounted for by the theory, could have produced all or part of these effects? (e) What factors limited both the scope and the extent of the experiment, and under what conditions could it be replicated or extended?

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, The Kennedy Experiment (June 1967). The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. XX, No. 2, Part 1, June, 1967. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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