Skip to main content
×
Home

Humiliation and Third-Party Aggression

Abstract

There is a growing consensus that status concerns drive state behavior. Although recent attention has been paid to when states are most likely to act on behalf of status concerns, very little is known about which actions states are most likely to engage in when their status is threatened. This article focuses on the effect of publicly humiliating international events as sources of status threat. Such events call into question a state's image in the eyes of others, thereby increasing the likelihood that the state will engage in reassertions of its status. The article presents a theory of status reassertion that outlines which states will be most likely to respond, as well as when and how they will be most likely to do so. The author argues that because high-status states have the most to lose from repeated humiliation, they will be relatively risk averse when reasserting their status. In contrast to prior work arguing that humiliation drives a need for revenge, the author demonstrates that great powers only rarely engage in direct revenge. Rather, they pursue the less risky option of projecting power abroad against weaker states to convey their intentions of remaining a great power. The validity of this theory is tested using an expanded and recoded data set of territorial change from 1816 to 2000. Great powers that have experienced a humiliating, involuntary territorial loss are more likely to attempt aggressive territorial gains in the future and, in particular, against third-party states.

Copyright
References
Hide All

* The author is grateful to Benjamin J. Cohen; Deborah Larson; Chad Nelson; Barry O’Neill; Brian Rathbun; Arthur Stein; Marc Trachtenberg; Robert F. Trager; William Wohlforth; three anonymous reviewers for World Politics; and participants in seminars and conferences at Wesleyan University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary Materials

Barnhart supplementary material S2
Barnhart supplementary material

 Word (16 KB)
16 KB
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Barnhart supplementary material S1
Online Appendix

 PDF (796 KB)
796 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 348 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 825 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 23rd May 2017 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.