In Who Fights for Reputation, Keren Yarhi-Milo provides an original framework, based on insights from psychology, to explain why some political leaders are more willing to use military force to defend their reputation than others. Rather than focusing on a leader’s background, beliefs, bargaining skills, or biases, Yarhi-Milo draws a systematic link between a trait called self-monitoring and foreign policy behavior. She examines self-monitoring among national leaders and advisers and shows that while high self-monitors modify their behavior strategically to cultivate image-enhancing status, low self-monitors are less likely to change their behavior in response to reputation concerns.
Exploring self-monitoring through case studies of foreign policy crises during the terms of U.S. presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton, Yarhi-Milo disproves the notion that hawks are always more likely than doves to fight for reputation. Instead, Yarhi-Milo demonstrates that a decision maker’s propensity for impression management is directly associated with the use of force to restore a reputation for resolve on the international stage.
Who Fights for Reputation offers a brand-new understanding of the pivotal influence that psychological factors have on political leadership, military engagement, and the protection of public prestige.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the FPA Distinguished Scholar Award, Foreign Policy Analysis Section of the International Studies Association
- Winner of the Best Book Award, Foreign Policy Section of the American Political Science Association
Keren Yarhi-Milo is associate professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations (Princeton).
“Who Fights for Reputation is a compelling and significant contribution to one of the most lively debates in security studies: whether and how individual leaders shake loose from system- and state-level constraints to shape international outcomes.”—Peter Feaver, Duke University
"Who Fights for Reputation argues that internal disposition, or self-monitoring, explains why some leaders place a high priority on establishing and defending a reputation for resolve when it comes to using military force. With superb and comprehensive analysis, this book does a masterful job of explaining why this theory of self-monitoring is relevant to foreign policy decisions."—Richard K. Herrmann, Ohio State University
“With original theories and multiple sources of evidence, Yarhi-Milo sheds light on the important and neglected question of individual variation in leaders’ concerns with their reputations for resolve. This book teaches us a great deal about international relations theory and postwar American foreign policy.”—Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think
“This absorbing book shows that discussions of credibility and reputation must consider the personality characteristics of leaders, and in particular, their concerns with the way others view them. Yarhi-Milo’s important account of key junctures in U.S. foreign policy demonstrates how the personal becomes political as the president’s concern for how he appears blurs into preoccupation with the state’s image and standing.”—Deborah Welch Larson, University of California, Los Angeles
"Yarhi-Milo addresses an important theoretical question, proposes a novel and powerful psychological explanation, and systematically tests it with statistical analysis, experiments, and case studies. The multimethod research design is a model for scholars to emulate, and the detailed case studies alone are worth the price of the book. Who Fights for Reputation has enormous implications for policy, and is a major contribution to international relations and political psychology." —Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University