How much is enough? Psychological aspects of guns versus butter decisions in a simulated security dilemma

How much is enough? Psychological aspects of guns versus butter decisions in a simulated security dilemma

By
Roderick M. Kramer, Debra Meyerson, Gerald Davis
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. June
1990, Vol. 58, Issue 6, Pages 984-993

The present research investigates the role of cognitive processes in decisions regarding how much to spend on security in a laboratory simulation of an international security dilemma. The results of 2 studies are described. Study 1 examines how initial deficits in security and wealth affect security allocations. As predicted, decision makers allocated less to security when there were initial deficits in both security and wealth than when deficits in security alone were salient. Study 1 also investigates how imagining hypothetical scenarios influences individuals’ security allocations. As hypothesized, individuals spent more on security when they had imagined worst case scenarios regarding their opponent than when they had imagined best case scenarios. Study 2 was conducted to examine the joint effects of decision frame and initial deficits on security decisions. It was found that individuals allocated the least resources to security when deficits in both security and wealth were initially high and decisional outcomes were framed in terms of economic losses associated with security allocations. Implications of these results for understanding real-world defense spending are discussed.