Rational Actor Model

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Rational Actor Model : 

Rational Actor Model Based on lecture of Professor Branislav L. Slantchev, Dept of Political Science University of California, San Diego April, 2005

Definition : 

Definition systematic explains foreign policy choices in international relations in terms of rational, i.e., purposeful behavior designed to achieve outcomes consistent with goals.

Rational ≠ Moral : 

Rational ≠ Moral purposeful behavior designed to achieve outcomes consistent with goals = “instrumental rationality” actors are able to relate means to ends, and they choose the means that help them obtain the ends they like most

Rational ≠ Moral : 

Rational ≠ Moral

Rational ≠ Moral : 

Rational ≠ Moral Can blowing yourself up be “rational?” Acts, however incomprehensible to us, in fact can relate means to ends in a purposeful way.

Idealized sequence: : 

Idealized sequence:

Maximizing Utility: Optimal Choice & Optimal Behavior : 

Maximizing Utility: Optimal Choice & Optimal Behavior each outcome is associated with some number, called utility or payoff, then the decision maker is choosing the option that yields the highest payoff, so she is maximizing utility.

Sometimes choices don’t work out … : 

Sometimes choices don’t work out …

Uncertainty : 

Uncertainty

Uncertainty: Environmental and Strategic : 

Uncertainty: Environmental and Strategic

Actors: 2 attributes : 

Actors: 2 attributes

Actors’ Preferences and Beliefs : 

Actors’ Preferences and Beliefs

The Environment : 

The Environment

Strategic Interaction : 

Strategic Interaction = Each actor tries to further goals, knowing other actors are doing the same. International politics is all about interdependent decision-making.

Strategic Interaction : 

Strategic Interaction extremely complicated

Game Theory : 

Game Theory mathematical tools for analyzing decision making in various environments

Game Theory : 

Game Theory huge impact on the study of economics, political science, biology, sociology and anthropology

Game Theory : 

Game Theory

Rational Actor Model, in Review … : 

Rational Actor Model, in Review … purposeful behavior; instrumental rationality optimal choice; expected utility; payoff mistakes, deliberate risks, unintended consequences environmental / strategic uncertainty actor’s preference and beliefs environment – actions and information structure strategic interaction, game theory

What moves will YOU choose? : 

What moves will YOU choose?

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