Analogies and Metaphors and Foreign Policy Decision-making

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Like all decision making, foreign policy decision making (FPDM) requires transferring meaning from one representation to another. Since the end of the Cold War, students of FPDM have focused increasingly on historical analogies and, to a lesser extent, conceptual metaphors to explain how this transference works. Drawing on converging evidence from the cognitive sciences, as well as careful case studies of foreign policymaking, they’ve shown analogy and metaphor to be much more than “cheap talk.” Instead, metaphor and analogy are intrinsic to policymakers’ cognition.

This article traces the development of this growing literature. So far, FPDM has treated analogy and metaphor separately. It has also paid far more attention to the former than the latter. By contrast, the article argues that analogy and metaphor are not only similar, they are equally essential to cognition. It defines and compares metaphor and analogy, analyzes their socio-cognitive functions in decision making, and charts the evolution of analogy and metaphor research in FPDM. It also suggests the utility of a constructivist-cognitive synthesis for future work in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Encyclopedia of Foreign Policy Analysis
EditorsThies Cameron G.
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages28
Volume1 of 2
ISBN (Print)9780190463045
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Metaphor
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • decision-making
  • political psychology
  • Analogy
  • Constructivism
  • Cognitive science

Cite this