Constructive Illusions: Misperceiving the Origins of International Cooperation

book cover: Constructive Illusions
July 10, 2014

Eric Grynaviski, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Are the best international agreements products of mutual understanding? The conventional wisdom in economics, sociology, and political science is that accurate perceptions of others' interests, beliefs, and ideologies promote cooperation. Obstacles to international cooperation therefore emerge from misperception and misunderstanding.

In Constructive Illusions, Eric Grynaviski challenges this conventional wisdom by  arguing that when nations wrongly believe they share a mutual  understanding, international cooperation is actually more likely, and
more productive, than if they had a genuine understanding of each other's position.  Grynaviski shows how such constructive misunderstandings allowed for cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1979.