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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Using psychological indicators to predict crisis escalation : a tracking approach Stewart, Michael Rowland


This project investigated the role that tracking psychological indicators (measured using the content analysis of political rhetoric) could play in predicting political behaviour during a political crisis. An initial review of the literature revealed that a number of psychological variables seem to be related to violence and/or co-operation. These included power motivation, complexity, belief in ability to control events, and belief about the cooperativeness of the political world. Hence, all of these variables were tested for their utility in predicting political aggression/cooperation during the crisis in Zimbabwe in an historical analysis that extended from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2008. A time-series regression analysis revealed that a large proportion of government violence during the 2007/2008 period could be accounted for by the complexity (measured through integrative complexity), power motivation (measured through power motive imagery) and belief in ability to control events of Nathaniel Manheru, a columnist for a state newspaper and close aide of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Integrative complexity and power motive imagery in particular, seemed to provide unique and powerful predictive utility in this model. However, given that no out-of-sample forecasting was possible in this application study, uncertainty remains with regard to the use of such a model for real-time forecasting – a problem that can be rectified in future research.

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