Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. In fall 2024, he will take up a new position as the Munk Chair for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Previously he held positions at McGill University and Indiana University. He attended Duke University as an undergraduate, graduating in 1995.

He has written five solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy, rationality and morality. His articles have appeared in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Studies Quarterly, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others.

Brian is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award and in 2019 was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association. His last three books have won awards from professional associations.

Rathbun has interests in integrating insights from political, social and cognitive psychology into the study of international relations, in particular how ideology, rationality and morality influence foreign policy decision-making. His primary substantive areas of concern are international cooperation, negotiation and human rights. He employs a variety of research methods, including archival-based case studies, surveys of public opinion, elite interviewing, quantitative text analysis and laboratory experiments.



Right and Wronged in International Relations: Evolutionary Ethics, Moral Revolutions and the Nature of Power Politics (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2023).

  • Winner of the Best Book Award 2023, Foreign Policy Section, International Studies Association

Reasoning of State: Realists, Romantics and Rationality in International Relations (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2019).

  • Winner of the Best Book Award 2019-2020, Foreign Policy Section, American Political Science Association

Diplomacy‘s Value: Creating Security in 1920s Europe and the Contemporary Middle East (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, Cornell University Press, 2014).

  • Winner of the Best Book Award 2013-2014, Diplomatic Studies Section, International Studies Association

Trust in Cooperation: International Security Institutions, Domestic Politics and American Multilateralism (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Partisan Interventions: European Party Politics and Peace Enforcement in the Balkans (Cornell University Press, 2004).


Peer-Reviewed Articles

Brian C. Rathbun, Christopher Sebastian Parker, and Caleb E. Pomeroy, “Separate but Unequal: Ethnocentrism and Racialization Explain the “Democratic” Peace in Public Opinion,” American Political Science Review (forthcoming).

Kathleen E. Powers and Brian C. Rathbun, “When the Rich get Richer: Class, Globalization and the Sociotropic Determinants of Populism,” International Studies Quarterly (forthcoming).

Brian Rathbun and Nina Srinivasan Rathbun, “Volk Theory: Prejudice, Racism and German Foreign Policy Before and Under Hitler,” Security Studies (forthcoming).

Caleb Pomeroy and Brian Rathbun, “Just Business?: Moral Condemnation and Virtuous Violence in the American and Russian Mass Publics,” Journal of Peace Research (forthcoming).justbusiness.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun and Caleb Pomeroy, “See No Evil, Speak No Evil?: Morality, Evolutionary Psychology and the Nature of International Relations,” International Organization, Vol. 76, No. 3 (2022), pp. 656-89. See_no_evil_IO.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, Nina Srinivasan Rathbun and Caleb Pomeroy, “No Fair!: Distinguishing the Pursuit of Status and Equity in the Foreign Policy of Wilhelmine Germany and the Public Opinion of Contemporary Russia,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (2022).nofairisq.pdf

Ryan D. Brutger and Brian C. Rathbun, “Fair Share: Equality and Equity in American Attitudes Towards Trade,” International Organization, Vol. 75, No. 3 (2021), pp. 880-900.fairshareIO.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Toward a Dual-Process Model of Foreign Policy Ideology,” Current Opinion in the Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 34 (2020), pp. 211-216.current_opinion.pdf

Aaron Rapport and Brian C. Rathbun, “Parties to an Alliance: Ideology and the Domestic Politics of International Institutionalization,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 58, No. 2 (2020), pp. 279-293.  JPR_final.pdf

Joshua D. Kertzer, Brian C. Rathbun and Nina Srinivasan Rathbun, “The Price of Peace: Motivated Reasoning and Costly Signaling in International Relations,” International Organization, Vol. 74, No. 1 (2020), pp. 95-118.pricepeace.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun and Rachel Stein, “Greater Goods: Morality and Attitudes towards the Use of Nuclear Weapons,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 64, No. 5 (2020), pp. 787-816.greater_goods_final.pdf

Emilie Hafner-Burton, Neil Narang and Brian Rathbun, “U.S. Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump Symposium: What Is Populist Nationalism and Why Does it Matter?” Journal of Politics, Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 707-711.joptrump.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “The Rarity of Realpolitik: What Bismarck’s Rationality Tells Us about International Politics,” International Security, Vol. 43, No. 1 (2018), pp. 7-55. Rarity_of_Realpolitik.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, Kathleen E. Powers and Therese Anders, “Moral Hazard: German Public Opinion on the Greek Debt Crisis,” Political Psychology, Vol. 40, No. 3 (2019), pp. 523-541.

Evgeniia Iakhnis, Brian Rathbun, Jason Reifler and Tom Scotto, “Populist Referendum: Was Brexit an Expression of Nativist and Anti-Elitist Sentiment?” Research & Politics Vol. 5, No. 2 (2018).brexit.pdf

Brian Rathbun, Joshua Kertzer, and Mark Paradis, “Homo Diplomaticus: Mixed Method Evidence of Variation in Strategic Rationality,” International Organization Vol. 71, No. S1 (2017), pp. S33-60. homo_diplomaticus_mixedmethod_evidence_of_variation_in_strategic_rationality.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm: A Critical Analysis of Rationalism’s Status as a Paradigm of International Relations,” International Relations, Vol. 31, No. 4 (2017), pp. 403-425. subvert_the_dominant_paradigm.pdf

Nina Srinivasan Rathbun and Brian C. Rathbun, “Teach a Student to Fish?: International Relations in the Classroom,” PS , Vol. 50, No. 1 (2017), pp. 214-220. teach_a_student_to_fish_.pdf

Joshua D. Kertzer and Brian C. Rathbun, “Fair is Fair: Social Preferences, Bargaining and Reciprocity and International Politics,” World Politics, Vol. 67, No. 4 (2015), pp. 613-655.  fair_is_fair_WP.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, Joshua Kertzer, Jason Reifler, Paul Goren and Thomas Scotto, “Taking Foreign Policy Personally: Personal Values and Foreign Policy Attitudes,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 1 (2016), pp. 124-137. Taking_Foreign_Policy_Personally.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Wedges and Widgets: Liberals, Libertarians and the Free Trade Attitudes of Americans,” Foreign Policy Analysis, Vol. 12, No. 1(2016), pp. 85-108. Wedges_and_Widgets.pdf

Joshua D. Kertzer, Kathleen E. Powers, Brian C. Rathbun and Ravi Iyer, “Moral Support: How Moral Values Shape Foreign Policy Attitudes,” Journal of Politics, Vol. 63, No. 3 (2014).  Moral_Support.pdf

Eric Hamilton and Brian C. Rathbun, “Scarce Differences: Towards a Material and Systemic Foundation for Offensive and Defensive Realism,” Security Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3 (2013), pp. 436-435. Scarce_Differences.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Steeped in International Affairs: The Foreign Policy Views of the Tea Party,” Foreign Policy Analysis, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2013), pp. 21-37. Steeped_in_International_Affairs.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Politics and Paradigm Preferences: The Implicit Ideology of International Relations Scholars,” in International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 3 (2012), pp. 607-622 (with responses by Robert Jervis and Nick Onuf). Politics_and_Paradigm_Preferences.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “From Vicious Circle to Virtuous Circle: Moralistic Trust, Diffuse Reciprocity and the American Security Commitment to Europe,” European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 18, No. 2 (2012), pp. 323-344. From_Vicious_to_Virtuous_Circle.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Before Hegemony: Generalized Trust, International Cooperation and the Design of International Organizations,” International Organization, Vol. 45, No. 2 (2011), pp. 243-273. Before_Hegemony.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “The ‘Magnificent Fraud’: Trust, International Cooperation and the Hidden Domestic Politics of Postwar American Multilateralism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (2011), pp. 1-21. Magnificent_Fraud.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Is Anybody Not an (International Relations) Liberal?” Security Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2 (2010), pp. 2-25 (lead article). Is_Anybody_Not_a_Liberal.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “It Takes All Types: Social Psychology, Trust and the International Relations Paradigm in Our Minds,” International Theory, Vol. 1, No. 3 (2009), pp. 345-380. It_Takes_All_Types.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Does One Right Make a Realist?:Conservativism, Neoconservatism and Isolationism in the Foreign Policy Ideology of American Elites,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 123, No. 2 (2008), pp. 271-299. Does_One_Right_Make_a_Realist.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “A Rose by Any other Name: Neoclassical Realism as the Natural and Necessary Extension of Neorealism,” Security Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2008), pp. 294-321. Rose_by_Any_Other_Name.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Uncertain about Uncertainty: Clarifying a Crucial Concept for International Relations Theory,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 3 (2007), pp. 25-47. Uncertain_about_Uncertainty.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Hierarchy and Community at Home and Abroad: Evidence of a Common Structure of Domestic and Foreign Policy Beliefs in American Elites,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 51, No. 3 (2007), pp. 379-407. Hierarchy_and_Community.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “The Myth of German Pacifism,” German Politics and Society, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Summer 2006), pp. 68-81. Myth_of_German_Pacifism.pdf

Brian C. Rathbun, “Plus jamais la guerre?: La normalisation de la politique extérieure allemande comme enjeu de politique partisane,” Critique internationale, No. 25 (October 2004).