PSIA Hosts Seminar on Decision-Making in International Politics

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On February 23, 2022,  the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) graduate program held a seminar with Dr. Arthur Khachikian, instructor at the Russian-Armenian University and director of the Center for International Education and Study Abroad. The seminar, titled “Cognitive Psychology and Decision-Making in International Politics,” addressed the issue of ‘bounded rationality’ and cognitive biases in international politics.

Following brief welcoming remarks by PSIA Program Chair Associate Professor Dr. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, Dr. Khachikian took the floor to present his analysis. He discussed the ways in which cognitive biases may impose constraints on decision-makers and generate suboptimal outcomes and decisions, supporting his claims with examples from the recent events surrounding Armenia and the war of 2020. 

“The incorporation of the existing literature on decision-making in international politics can help us decipher the benefits and pitfalls in decision-making units,” said Dr. Khachikian.  

Dr. Khachikian elaborated on how pre-existing beliefs blind decision-makers to new information (‘cognitive closure’), how decision-makers behave under stressful circumstances (‘hypervigilance,’ ‘defensive avoidance’), how they justify their failures post-factum (‘bolstering’), and how they project their worldviews (‘ideological projection and exporting’) and aggrandize their own position in calculation of other players.

The seminar was followed by a Q&A session, during which students and faculty members had the opportunity to expand on the topic and seek further insight into the main arguments presented by the speaker.

The Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program provides world-class teaching and research, producing graduates who can best contribute to the development of the nation.