Clary, Matthew Quinn
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This thesis investigates the relationship between Attribution Theory, a major field from Social Psychology, and international crises by analyzing the effects of attribution errors on the escalation dynamics of Sino-American crises. It finds that perceptual inaccuracies such as attribution errors do play a tremendous role in the unintended escalation and/or de-escalation of key Sino-American crises of the past 50 years, including the Korean War (1950-53), the Vietnam War (1959-75), the Chinese Embassy Bombing (1999), and the EP-3/Spy-plane Incident (2001). By understanding the historical implications of such perceptual errors, both American and Chinese decision-makers should be more capable of preventing the undesired escalation of bilateral crises.