Faculty Advisor

Dr. Kirk Buckman


This mixed approach study seeks to identify the most likely crisis-related decision-making strategies that President Biden, Zelensky, and Putin adopted during the Russo-Ukrainian pre-war crisis. The dissertation tests rational choice, expected utility, poliheuristic, and prospect theory frameworks against five critical decisions. The findings indicate that a Prospect Theory-based framework provides the most accurate predictions of the four models. Further, the study’s incidental finding highlights the salience of politics in decision-making, concluding that a simple lexicographic decision rule grounded in political interests accurately predicts and explains each leader’s choices more reliably and parsimoniously than the other frameworks and just as elegantly.



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