assessments of the quality of the knowledge that they have for making and defending their choices. Risk analyses can provide that assessment, as long as they are accompanied by acknowledgment of their own strengths and limits.45

Some of the questions derived from the psychology of risk include the following:

• How can organizations responsible for technology development ensure that they have the expertise needed to assess all aspects of the technology’s performance?

• How can technology-driven and technology-driving organizations improve their ability to identify, analyze, and manage risks?

• When do normal cognitive processes impede the development, deployment, and operation of technology (e.g., wishful thinking, fallacies of intuition, overconfidence)?

• How, if at all, can both deontological and utilitarian (cost-benefit) concerns be accommodated in decision-making processes?

Social Psychology and Group Behavior

An understanding of group behavior may yield insight into how an adversary might react to U.S. deployment or use of certain types of weapons. One of the most important areas of research in providing an understanding of individual and group behavior is the literature from social psychology on the origins and implications of group identity. For example, in a review of the lessons of social psychology for understanding the virulent nationalism plaguing international politics in the years immediately after the Cold War, Druckman suggested:

… they [social psychologists] have explored the factors that arouse feelings of group loyalty when such group loyalty promotes hostility toward other groups; how cross-cutting or multiple loyalties can change the face of nationalism; and how individual group loyalties influence and shape collective behavior.46

A 2011 NIH/DOD workshop discussed psychologically motivating factors of terrorism under the rubric of terror management theory, which


45 Silvio O. Funtowicz and Jerome R. Ravetz, Uncertainty and Quality in Science for Policy, Kluwer Academic Publishers, London, 1990; National Research Council, Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2011.

46 Daniel Druckman, “Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group Loyalty: A Social Psychological Perspective,” Mershon International Studies Review 38:43-68, 1994, available at

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