Inaction Inertia in International Negotiations: The Consequences of Missed Opportunities

Lesley G. Terris, Orit E. Tykocinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In international disputes, forgone settlement offers are frequently lamented, but their impact on the dynamics of ongoing negotiations is largely overlooked. In the psychological literature, however, the consequences of missing an advantageous action opportunity have been studied extensively in the context of the inaction inertia phenomenon. According to this literature, forgoing attractive action opportunities renders decision makers susceptible to regret and increases the likelihood that subsequent opportunities will also be missed. This article explores the explanatory potential of the inaction inertia effect in the context of international negotiations. Findings based on laboratory experiments and analysis of the negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit strongly suggest that the concept of inaction inertia can enrich the understanding of failures and deadlocks in international negotiations. The article defines the conditions that are instrumental in identifying inertia-induced deadlocks and discusses factors that encourage the termination of inaction inertia and promote dispute settlement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-717
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Inaction Inertia in International Negotiations: The Consequences of Missed Opportunities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this