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Chapter 5

International Expectations

By R.J. Rummel

Expectations therefore are vital in relations between states. Every social order is based ultimately on expectations.
---- Luard, 1968: 41
It is in relation to expectations that contemporary theories of politics and international politics have most to offer to the practitioner.
---- Burton, 1968: 71

Volume 4

Expanded Contents | Figures | Tables


1. Perspective And Summary
2. International Relations
3. The International Actors
4. International Behavior Space-Time
6. International Actor And Situation
7. International Sociocultural Space-Time
8. Interests, Capabilities, And Wills
9. The Social Field Of International Relations
10. Latent International Conflict
11. International Conflict: Trigger, Will, And Preparations
12. The Balancing Of Power
13. Comparative Dynamics Of International Conflict
14. Introduction To Propositions And Evidence On International Conflict
15. Empirical Dynamics Of International Conflict
16. Causes And Conditions Of International Conflict And War
17. Ending Conflict And War: The Balance Of Powers
18. The International Conflict Helix
19. Theoretical And Empirical Conclusions On Conflict And War
20. Principles Of Peace And Conflict


15A. Phasing Propositions and Their Evidence on International Conflict
16A. On Causes of International Conflict
16B. Propositions and Their Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
16C. Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
17A. Propositions and Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of Ending International Conflict Behavior
18A. Descriptive Propositions on International Conflict
19A. Overall Evidence on 54 Social Field Propositions on International Conflict
19B. Primary Propositions on Social Conflict
I. Unpublished Research and Results on International Relations
II. Event Data: Bases of Empirical Conflict Analysis
III. Characteristics of Published Quantitative International Relations Studies

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


As discusssed in the Chapter 4, each of the empirical components of international behavioral space-time (Table 4.1) defines a manifest pattern of behavior, an underlying structure or process--so much has been said. Now, each of these patterns comprise a type of behavioral choice available to an actor. He may transact, he may export, he may align, he may threaten, and so on. The eight components therefore span the common behavioral repertoire of actors, the space of common potential acts, actions, practices, and reflexes.

Moreover, each manifest behavioral pattern defined by the components reflects the underlying dispositions of actors to so behave. That is, the different empirical components not only reflect structures and processes, but also likely behavioral dispositions at different points in time.

Thus, the overall disposition of an actor to behave towards another can be visualized as a time path in behavioral space-time. The movement of this actor-object dyad through space-time depends on the actor's changing disposition. Figure 5.1 pictures these actual paths for the dyadic behavioral dispositions of the United States, USSR, and China dyads, 1950-1965, in the space of transactions and negative behavior--two behavioral components discussed previously.1

For Soviet dispositions towards the U.S., the Figure shows an interesting movement away from negative behavior towards transactions from 1950 to 1963. However, from 1963 to 1965 there was a complete reversal of direction in dispositions--almost a return to the previous status quo. This can well be explained by the escalation of the Vietnam guerrilla war in 1963 to an intense local war between the United States and North Vietnamese by December 1965, with North Vietnam fully supported by the Soviet Union. This 1963-1965 tendency to retreat from détente with the United States did not parallel American dispositions toward the Soviet Union. The United States also tended towards less negative behavior and more transactions between 1950-1955 (especially after the death of Stalin in 1953), but reversed that disposition after the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1957, Khrushchev's missile rattling in the Suez War of 1957, the evidence of Soviet ICBM capability with their launching of Sputnik in 1958 and the resulting missile gap scare, the Berlin crisis of 1958, and the U-2 incident of 1960 that broke up the Eisenhower-Khrushchev summit. From 1960 to 1965, however, the U.S. disposition to transact with the Soviets remained about the same, while the tendency towards negative behavior decreased from 1960-1963, and only slightly increased as a result of Vietnam.

The effects of the Sino-Soviet split on their mutual dispositions can also be seen in Figure 5.1, where the Soviet movement towards greater transactions was reversed in 1960, with a greater tendency towards negative behavior (this was partially reversed in the 1963-1965 period, perhaps as a result of a need for a Vietnam war-related cooperation with China). However, China over the same period has simply tended to direct more conflict behavior at the Soviet Union.


Given an actor's dispositions, such as those shown in Figure 5.1, how in fact he behaves towards another depends on his assimilated, common expectations of the outcomes.2 An actor will have such common expectations associated with each of the components and they will weight his associated dispositions. How in fact he behaves will be a result of his overall assessment of outcomes in relation to these dispositions.3

Figure 5.2 shows this actual relationship for Soviet dispositions towards the United States in 1963. The location of the disposition vector in 1963 is one point in the USSRUS time path plotted in Figure 5.1.4 It is a Soviet disposition towards both high negative behavior and high transactions with the US.

Would the Soviets then move toward a high-level conference with American leaders in 1963? Their common expectations about the outcome of such a conference is shown as the vector h in Figure 5.2. The projections of the expectation vector are product-moment correlations.5 (On the nature of this coefficient, see Understanding Correlation.) They show that conference expectations have a small, insignificant inverse relationship to those involved in negative behavior; a positive and high relationship (amounting to 36% of the variation in conference expectations)6 to those expectations involved in transactions. That is, in 1963 the Soviets saw conferences with the US as irrelevant to their negative behavior but quite important for enhancing or promoting their transactions with the US.

How in fact the Soviets would behave towards the US, whether they are likely to seek conferences with American leaders, was a function of both their common dispositions and expectations. Figure 5.2 shows this function at increasing levels of specificity, as illustrated in Figure 5.2A, below.

Figure 5.2A

The actual number of high-level Soviet-American conferences in 1963 resulted from a weighting of Soviet behavioral dispositions by their expectations. This was a vector (dot) product of wUSSRUS and h; it was a summation of the product of expectations times dispositions on each behavioral space-time component.7

In terms of general international expectations and an actor's behavioral dispositions toward another at some specific time, the general equation for an actor's common behavior towards another is

Equation 5.1:

h,ij = h1w1,ij + h2w2,ij + . . . + hqwq,ij = k hkwk,ij,

h,ij = manifest common behavior h of state, group or individual actor i toward state, group or individual actor j;
wk,ij = actor i's disposition to manifest component behavior k toward j;
hk = relationship of actor's expectation of the outcome of behavior h to those expectations involved in component behavior k;
k = summation sign, where for this equation the values are summed across each component of behavior k for all q number of components.

This is a basic equation of international behavior.8 It connects behavioral dispositions and expectations; it relates common manifest and latent behavior; it spans common cooperation and conflict; it locates actors in a common behavioral space-time. In short, it says that the behavior of one actor to another depends on the actor's dispositions and international expectations.9

To understand better the equation and the meaning of common, let me be more precise about the kind of behavioral variation it defines.10 Figure 5.3 lays out in detail the variation being described. The solid middle bar represents all the dyadic variation in some specific behavior (Bh) of actors towards others. For example, if Bh denotes threats, then "variation" would mean that variation in the threats of the United States towards Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, and so on to Yemen, Yugoslavia, and Zaire; of the USSR towards each of these nations; of China towards each of those nations; and so on.

This variation in behavior is divisible into common and unique, where common variation refers to that intercorrelated with other behavior (such as negative sanctions, exports, treaties, and so on); unique is then that behavior which is uncorrelated--it is idiosyncratic, individualistic, odd. Variation in a kind of behavior (Bh) is thus a sum of the variation in common (h) and unique behavior (U). Variation in unique behavior is shown in Figure 5.3, therefore, as Bh - h. The common components of international behavior space-time discussed previously are those of this common variation in all kinds of behavior for all actors.

Now, the variation in common and unique behavior Bh is further divisible into practices and reflexes, and acts and actions as also shown. That is, some of the common variation in behavior partly involves international acts and actions, and partly practices and reflexes. If Bh is threats, then some variation may be due to routine behavior within a conflict process, some may be an automatic reflex, or some may constitute actions towards a goal.

Below the solid bar in Figure 5.3 is indicated the relationship of common expectations and behavioral dispositions to behavior. First, note that these two common factors only relate to common behavior. And second, note that unique behavior is related to factors U other than common expectations and behavioral dispositions. What these might be is specific to the individual, behavior, situation, and object of behavior. For example, President Carter's threats towards the Soviet Union may be less than one would expect given his personal fear of an arms race and nuclear war with the Soviet Union that is not involved in threats to other nations.

Third and finally, note that all common behavior is assumed a consequence of common expectations and behavioral dispositions. That is, because common behavior is intercorrelated with other behavior there must be underlying expectations and dispositions shared among actors.

With this understood, the vector equation in Figure 5.2 should be clear. It is:

Equation 5.2:

h = khkWk,

h = the common variation in (vector of) an actor's dyadic behavior h towards others;
hk = common expectations among actors of behavior h in relation to the expectations involved in component behavior k;
Wk = the common variation in (vector of) dyadic dispositions of actors to manifest behavior h towards others.
k = the summation of hkWk is across component behaviors 1, 2, ..., k, ....

Thus, Equation 5.1 given previously defines a specific common behavior h towards a specific state (thus, the subscripts i j), which is an element in the vector h of Equation 5.2. The specific behavior, h,ij, is not shown in Figure 5.3--the Figure pictures all the variation in specific behavior towards others, rather than just that of i towards j.

To place this discussion of common behavior in the context of the international behavior of all actors, Figure 5.4 divides this space-time as shown. If B refers to the international space-time of all actors, then B is divisible into common () and unique (B-) space-time. Then:

Equation 5.3:

= W,

= the matrix of common international behavior of actors towards others;
= the matrix of general expectations of actors of the outcome of their behavior;
W = the matrix of common behavior dispositions of actors.

Equation 5.3 is the most general equation of expectations and dispositions. It defines the general expectations and dispositions model, which is given detail in vector terms for specific behavior by Equation 5.2 and for a specific dyad by Equation 5.1. These equations differ only in the level of specificity within the same model. Table 5.1 lists and describes these equations together.

Some words about choice and intentions are necessary here. The equations look deterministic; they seem to imply that given expectations and dispositions cause behavior. In no way is this meant. The equations simply mean that among diverse international actors are commonalities of dispositions and concern over consequences--that each actor will seek to gratify his interests depending on the costs and gains involved. The equations say no more than that given his disposition to behave in a certain way, and his general expectation of the outcome, he commonly will choose a specific behavior. As an historical generalization, a reflection of past data, the equations simply say that an actor has chosen such behavior as a result of certain dispositions and expectations. There is no loss of free will in this equation or in the previous analysis.


* Scanned from Chapter 5 in R.J. Rummel, War, Power, Peace, 1979. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. The plots in Figure 5.1 were generated from a factor analysis (super-P) done on 53 behavioral variables over the years 1950, 195S, 1960, 1963, and 1965 for 182 dyads. The plots are of the factor scores from the orthogonally rotated components of this image analysis. See Rummel (1979) for the specific results and original data.

2. Expectations should not be confused with perception, which I will discuss in the Chapter 6. On this I agree with Burton (1968: 69) who treats expectations as "analytically distinct from interactions and perceptions because they concern future behavior." I do not understand, however, his following argument that expectations thus give freer reign to "prejudice and preconceived notions because there can be no reality-testing as is frequently possible with perception." Indeed, I would argue that the opposite is the case. Expectations concern specific consequences about behavior and are constantly tested in the process of behaving. It is mutually tested and balanced expectations that form the structure of expectations. But perceptions form part of our perspective, they constitute a larger framework of behavior, a gestalt that is not well-tested by individual behavior, but which may undergo slow change, or a sudden shift under an accumulation of events discordant with the framework.

3. The use of expectations regarding both cooperation and conflict behavior components may be confusing. The cooperation components reflect a structure of common expectations between actor and object, which is an implicit or explicit contract. These are common expectations mutually "negotiated" through a balancing of powers. Also, however, expectations are usually associated with conflict behavior as well. An actor warns, threatens, sanctions, or does violence against another in the anticipation of certain consequences. Aspects of such expectations are common to all actors and are developed through common experiences of conflict, and through the culture shared by international actors. A diplomatic protest, for example, is ritualized, its role in diplomacy well understood. The pattern of expectations of which it is a part is familiar: accusations, protests, warnings, threats, ultimatums. Thus, for example, there are expectations locked into a treaty between parties, and there are the common expectations each party has about the actions involved in the negotiating process--the conflictful or balancing phase.

4. The particular behavioral dispositions of an actor to another are denoted here in lower case (e.g., wk,ij ), rather than the upper case W used in the previous Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field and Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix. The reason is to make the notation simpler and more consistent with other notation to be introduced in subsequent chapters of this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace.

5. These values of the expectation vector are the factor loadings of conferences on the (orthogonal) behavioral space-time components. See Note 1.

6. This is the squared correlation times 100.

7. Lest this seem overly abstract macro-analysis, the picture is congruent with a micro-analysis--with the psychological space of each actor. See Chapters 13, 14, and 18 of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field. That book was written to provide the specific psychological foundations for the perspective being presented here.

8. Omitted

9. Many operational questions will emerge at this point, the most important of which have been answered in my various publications and this Chapter of Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace. To consider briefly just a few:

How is this common behavior space-time measured? By a common factor analysis of the widest, most varied dyadic behavior Bh

How are the common components W defined? Each W is a primary pattern factor (Rummel, 1970: Section 17.1.1) resulting from an oblique rotation of image analysis factors. See "Understanding Factor Analysis."

How are the dispositions of each actor to behave toward an object j measured? These are the factor scores of a dyad ij on each factor W.

How are the generalized expectations of actors measured? These are the loadings of each behavior Bh (such as exports, threats, border clashes, state visits, and so on) on the separate factors W. Thus, Equation 5.1 is in fact the factor model (with unique variance omitted and Bh,ij assumed to define only common behavior). See Rummel (1970: Sections 5.1-5.2). Thus, the expectation vector in Figure 5.1 is the vector of factor loadings for Bh; the disposition vector is the vector of factor scores for dyad ij.

How is time brought in? The data matrix is a super-matrix of column behaviors Bh over rows of dyads ij for different time periods. Thus, one row could define USChina behavior 1950, another for 1955, a third for 1960, and so on for the time periods involved and the separate dyads. The logic underlying this space-time analysis is given in Rummel (1977: Chapter 8). See Rummel (1979) for a full scale analyses of this space-time matrix.

10. For a fuller treatment of "common" than that given here, especially regarding latents and latent functions (components), see Chapter 10 of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field.

For citations see the Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace REFERENCES

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