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The Psychology of StrategyExploring Rationality in the Vietnam War$
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Kenneth Payne

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190227234

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190227234.001.0001

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Social Identity in War

Social Identity in War

(p.53) 3 Social Identity in War
The Psychology of Strategy

Kenneth Payne

Oxford University Press

The social identity of policymakers provides one of the key motivations for strategy. In particular, strategists are motivated to improve their standing within their referent group, and to enhance the standing of that group relative to others. This chapter draws on Henri Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory to explore the social forces at work in policymaking, including the emotional attachment to the group. These are illustrated in the case of Vietnam via a discussion of the dynamic and complex identities embroiled in the conflict; and the failure of US policymakers to appreciate the forces at work both domestically and in Vietnam itself.

Keywords:   social identity, Vietnam, emotion, Tajfel, confirmation bias, Social Identity Theory, policymakers, strategy

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