Contingencies to Prevent Catastrophe: Behavioral Psychology and the Anti-Nuclear Arms Movement

Christopher M. Murphy


An active public strongly opposed to the nuclear arms race may offer the best hope to prevent weapons escalation and thereby decreases the risk of nuclear war. In spite of Marxist interpretations to the contrary, this paper argues that the peace movement is necessary and potentially powerful in creating social change. Some possible applications of behavioral psychology to the peace movement are examined. Knowledge about response allocation, self-control, and the promotion of novelty in responding may bolster the effectiveness of public involvement. At the same time, efforts to create social change provide a proving ground for behavioral principles.

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