Director Peter Gries gives talk at the University of Oxford

16 January 2018

'Are the US and China Fated to Fight?'

University of Oxford China Centre logo

On Monday, 15 January 2018, Prof Peter Gries gave a lecture at the University of Oxford's China Centre on the following topic:

Are the US and China destined to fall into a "Thucydides trap" of power transitions leading to great power conflict?

The study explored the psychological processes that underlie US-China relations today. In two randomized online experiments, we manipulated ordinary Americans' perceptions of US-China relations with real CNN video clips that framed a possible US-China power transition as either positive or zero-sum.

Across both experiments, more zero-sum news reports heightened perceptions of US-China competition, increasing intergroup mistrust, anger, and desires for a tougher China policy.

The second study both replicated these findings and revealed that individual differences in nationalism and uncertainty avoidance moderated the effects of media framings on mistrust and anger. These experimental results provide insights into the psychological mechanisms linking structural changes in the balance of power to the individual-level processes that determine great power war and peace.

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