Information, Uncertainty, and War

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Uncertainty about capabilities, intent, or resolve has long been linked to war. More recently, the bargaining model of war has established uncertainty, also referred to as asymmetric information, as one of the two major causes of costly conflict, the other being the dynamics of commitment in anarchy. A growing theoretical literature has made significant strides in fleshing out causal mechanisms and expanding our understanding of the role of information in conflict onset and how it relates to crisis bargaining and arms races. This article reviews these theoretical developments and describes current efforts to better understand the relationships between information, uncertainty, and war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-527
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - May 11 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Beliefs
  • Cascades
  • Conflict
  • Game theory
  • Optimism
  • Spirals
  • Strategy
  • War


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