Robert Jervis

Columbia University

Primary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Secondary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Membership Type: Member (elected 2021)


Robert Jervis is Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University. His most recent book is How Statesmen Think (Princeton University Press, 20170.  His Why Intel-ligence Fails (Cornell University Press, 2010) has been translated into 3 languages. His System Effects: Complexity in Political Life (Princeton University Press, 1997) was a co-winner of the APSA’s Psychology Section Best Book Award, and The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolu-tion (Cornell University Press, 1989) won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is also the author of The Logic of Images in International Relations (Princeton Univer-sity Press, 1970; 2d ed., Columbia University Press, 1989), Perception and Misperception in In-ternational Politics (Princeton University Press, 1976), and over 200 other publications.
Jervis was President of the American Political Science Association in 2000-01. In 2006 he re-ceived the National Academy of Science’s award for behavioral sciences contributions to avoid-ing nuclear war and has received honorary degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Venice. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1978-79 and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Political and Social Sci-ence, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the British Academy. Jervis chaired the Historical Review Panel for CIA for 10 years and is an Intelligence Community associate.

Research Interests

Robert Jervis’s research ranges widely across international politics, specializing in issues of national security. His main focus has been on political psychology, and particularly how leaders and states perceive and misperceive each other. This has led to academic research and studies for the US government on intelligence failures.  He also has analyzed the other side of this coin – how states signal their characteristics and intentions to others, and, related, how they seek to deceive. He has written extensively about the role of nuclear weapons in the world politics, starting in the Cold War but continuing to the current era. He has also studied various episodes in the Cold War and how they relate to theories of international politics. He continues to work on complexity in political and social systems, with special attention to the problems that arise because we are not only dealing with interconnected systems, but with actors who have their own theories about how these systems work.

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