What War Narratives Tell About the Psychology and Coalitional Dynamics of Ethnic Violence

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Department of Anthropology

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Abstract

Models of ethnic violence have primarily been descriptive in nature, advancing broad or particular social and political reasons as explanations, and neglecting the contributions of individuals as decision-makers. Game theoretic and rational choice models recognize the role of individual decision-making in ethnic violence. However, such models embrace a classical economic theory view of unbounded rationality as utility-maximization, with its exacting assumption of full informational access, rather than a model of bounded rationality, modeling individuals as satisficing agents endowed with evolved domain-specific competences. A newer theoretical framework hypothesizing the existence of a human coalitional psychology, an evolved domain of competence, allows us to make sense of core features of memorial narratives about ethnic violence. Qualitative data from the interviews of fifty-seven participants who were impacted by the Croatian Homeland War support expectations entailed by a coalitional psychology model of ethnic strife.

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