Religious Influences on Crisis Presidential Decision-Making: A New Belief in the Operational Code Analysis of George W. Bush
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CitationYamashiro, Daniel K.M. 2017. Religious Influences on Crisis Presidential Decision-Making: A New Belief in the Operational Code Analysis of George W. Bush. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis investigation explores religious influences on foreign policy decision-making of American presidents in times of national crisis. It focuses on one heuristic case study, George W. Bush during the crisis of 9/11. Part One involves a plausibility probe. Since “cognitive frameworks and belief systems are the primary lenses through which presidents view the world” and religion is a variable that shapes beliefs related to political decision-making, three essential questions emerge: 1) whether religion ever changes these beliefs significantly, and if so, 2) when do these changes occur, and 3) what causes those changes? Grounded on Herbert Simon’s theory of bounded rationality, this thesis performs a counterfactual operational code analysis on President George W. Bush utilizing Jonathan Renshon’s data from “Stability and Change in Belief Systems: The Operational Code of George W. Bush” to develop empirical data that atheizes forty-eight foreign policy speech transcripts from Bush’s presidency. The comparative analysis isolates religion as an independent variable, enlisting Profiler Plus and the Verbs in Context System indices to determine whether there are major shifts and/or statistical significance with religion as a causal mechanism. Part Two examines George W. Bush from autobiographical, psycho-biographical, and biographical studies. I analyze religious influences throughout the president’s life from childhood to the presidency, pre-9/11 and post-9/11—proposing a causal link hypothesis of religion to crisis presidential decision-making by employing Albert Bandura’s model of triadic reciprocality in social cognitive theory. The results of this investigation challenge previous explanations on causal paths for belief change and subsequent decision-making. It introduces a new research framework to the literature of presidential decision-making by presenting a methodology to derive empirical data that examines religious influences on the political beliefs of presidents and a diagnostic model for analyzing autobiographies.
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