Thinking about Nuclear Deterrence Theory: Why Evolutionary Psychology Undermines Its Rational Actor Assumptions
For too long, nuclear deterrence theorists have remained apart from the revolution in the life sciences, and particularly evolutionary psychology, which has fundamentally changed the scientific understanding of the human mind. As a result of advances in evolutionary psychology, we now know that how the brain interprets actions and makes decisions is complicated, imperfect, greatly dependent upon emotions, and varied among humans. Consequently, it is fundamentally naïve and dangerous to assume a similar outcome in deterrent situations when there is variation in cognition among leaders. The rational deterrence model's assumption of a universal rationality is irredeemably flawed and students of nuclear deterrence must replace it with a gradated understanding of rationality.
Defense and Strategic Studies
Thayer, Bradley A. "Thinking about nuclear deterrence theory: Why evolutionary psychology undermines its rational actor assumptions." Comparative Strategy 26, no. 4 (2007): 311-323.