Header William and Katherine Estes Award

The William and Katherine Estes Award recognizes basic research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that uses rigorous formal and empirical methods to advance our understanding of issues relating to the risk of nuclear war. This award was established by a gift of William and Katherine Estes and includes a $20,000 prize.

Scott D. Sagan, Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, is the recipient of the 2015 William and Katherine Estes Award.

Sagan's work has become an integral part of the nuclear debate in the United States and overseas. He has shown, for example, that a government's decision to pursue nuclear weapons can be prompted not only by national security concerns but also because of domestic political interests, parochial bureaucratic infighting, or concerns about international prestige. Sagan has developed theories about why different types of political regimes behave differently once they acquire "the bomb." Sagan and colleagues have also investigated U.S. public attitudes about nuclear weapons and found that few Americans actually believe that there is a taboo against their use in conflicts. The possession of nuclear weapons also raises the risk of nuclear weapons accidents, and Sagan has shown that even though there has never been an accidental nuclear war, there have been many more close-calls and near-accidents than was previously known.  


Scott D. Sagan (2015)
For his pioneering theoretical and empirical work addressing the risks of nuclear possession and deployment and the causes of nuclear proliferation.  

Robert Powell (2012)
For sophisticated game theoretic models of conflict that illuminate the heart of the strategic dilemmas of nuclear deterrence, including the importance of private information.

Graham Allison (2009)
For illuminating alternative ways of thinking about political decision making with special relevance to crises, including nuclear crises, as demonstrated in his groundbreaking Essence of Decision and subsequent works.

Robert Jervis (2006)
For showing, scientifically and in policy terms, how cognitive psychology, politically contextualized, can illuminate strategies for the avoidance of nuclear war.

Walter Enders and Todd Sandler (2003)
For their joint work on transnational terrorism using game theory and time series analysis to document the cyclic and shifting nature of terrorist attacks in response to defensive counteractions.

Philip E. Tetlock (2000)
For successfully developing a semantic measure of cognitive complexity predictive of foreign policy decisions and for applying psychological analysis and knowledge to nuclear policy problems.

Alexander L. George (1997)
For combining theory with history to elucidate the requirements of deterrence, the limits to coercive diplomacy, and the relationship between force and statecraft.

Thomas C. Schelling (1993)
For his pioneering work on the logic of military strategy, nuclear war, and arms races, which has profoundly influenced our understanding of this crucial subject.

Robert Axelrod (1990)
For his imaginative use of game theory, experimentation, and computer simulation to define and test strategies for confrontation and cooperation and other models of social interaction.

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