Making it personal: The role of leader-specific signals in extended deterrence

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30 Scopus citations


This article explores how a major power’s leader can deter challenges against weaker states using “leader-specific” signals of support. These signals are sent by a leader personally and publicly, so that the leader becomes associated with the signal in the eyes of the public. Leader-specific signals can be a valuable tool for achieving credible extended deterrence because they are flexible, and they create personal audience and reputational costs for leaders. I focus on leader visits abroad as the type of leader-specific signal that is most likely to be credible. I use original data recording leadership visits in a statistical analysis of extended deterrence success 1950–2007 and find that these visits have a significant deterrent effect. This is particularly true when a visit is accompanied by a high level of supportive statements and when the visit recipient also has a major power defense pact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)982-995
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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