Images in conflict: The case of Ronald Reagan and El Salvador

Academic Article


  • International conflict has long been of intrigue to scholars, and numerous explanations have been forwarded in an attempt to understand the causes of conflict. This article seeks to build upon explanations of conflict by focusing upon the psychology of decision-making with regard to the impact cognitive images have upon policymakers as imperfect information-processors. While various studies concerning other aspects of the belief system have provided examples of cognitive techniques for managing information, little attention has been given to systematically analyzing the specific mechanisms. Employing thematic content analysis, this study engages in such an inquiry so as to achieve further understanding of the actual methods by which actors manage information contradictory to their image. Focusing specifically on Ronald Reagan and his image of El Salvador between the years 1980 and 1984, the findings of this study indicate that specific cognitive procedures for managing discordant information do indeed exist, and that information processing may be influenced by multiple images.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Blanton SL
  • Start Page

  • 23
  • End Page

  • 44
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 1