Brian Rathbun

Professor of International Relations
Brian Rathbun
Email brathbun at Office DMC 230B Office Phone (213) 740-8840

Research & Practice Areas

International relations theory; international organizations; human rights; European politics; European integration; party politics; ideology and foreign policy; American foreign policy; political psychology; negotiation and bargaining


Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. 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, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association. His book, Diplomacy’s Value (Cornell University Press 2014) won the same section’s inaugural book award. His most recent book, Reasoning of State (Cambridge University Press 2019) won the 2018-2020 best book award from the Foreign Policy section of the American Political Science Association. In his free time, he rescues kittens from trees.

Publications are downloadable at


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 7/2002
  • B.A. Political Science, Duke University, 5/1995
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Mershon Center, Ohio State University, 2002-2003
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Brian Rathbun has interests in integrating insights from political, social and cognitive psychology into the study of international relations, in particular how ideology influences 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, and laboratory experiments.

    Research Keywords

    International relations theory; international organizations; human rights; European politics; European integration; party politics; ideology and foreign policy; American foreign policy; political psychology; negotiation and bargaining

  • USC Funding

    • USC Office of the Provost . School of International Relations Circles of Trust: The Creation of International Security Organizations and the Politics of Multilateralism: Grant to complete research for book manuscript and journal articles on the origins of American multilateralism, $15000, 2009-2010
  • Book

    • Rathbun, B. C. (2022). Right and Wronged in International Relations: Evolutionary Ethics, Moral Revolutions, and the Nature of Power Politics. Cambridge University Press.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2019). Reasoning of State: Realists, Romantics and Rationality in International Relations. Cambridge University Press.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2014). Diplomacy’s Value: Creating Security in 1920s Europe and the Contemporary Middle East. Cornell University Press.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2012). Trust in International Cooperation: The Creation of International Security Institutions and the Domestic Politics of American Multilateralism. Cambridge University Press.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2004). Partisan Interventions: European Party Politics and Peace Enforcement in the Balkans. Cornell University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Rathbun, B. C. (2010). Domestic Politics and International Relations, in the Encyclopedia of Political Science. Sage Publications.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2008). Interviewing and Qualitiative Field Methods, in the Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Journal Article

    • Powers, K. E., Rathbun, B. C. (2023). When the Rich get Richer: Class, Globalization and the Sociotropic Determinants of Populism. International Studies Quarterly.
    • Pomeroy, C., Rathbun, B. C. (2022). Just Business?: Moral Condemnation and Virtuous Violence in the American and Russian Mass Publics. Journal of Peace Research.
    • Rathbun, B. C., Rathbun, N. S. (2022). Volk Theory: Prejudice, Racism and German Foreign Policy Before and Under Hitler. Security Studies.
    • Rathbun, B. C., Rathbun, N. S., Pomeroy, C. (2021). 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 (forthcoming).
    • Rathbun, B. C., Pomeroy, C. (2021). See No Evil, Speak No Evil?: Morality, Evolutionary Psychology and the Nature of International Relations. International Organization (forthcoming).
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2021). Fair Share?: Equality and Equity in American Attitudes towards Trade. International Organization. Vol. forthcoming
    • Rathbun, B. C., Stein, R. (2021). Greater Goods: Morality and Attitudes on Nuclear Weapons Use. Journal of Conflict Resolution.
    • Rathbun, B. C., Kertzer, J. D., Rathbun, N. S. (2020). Price of Peace: Motivated Reasoning and Costly Signaling in International Relations. International Organization.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2020). Parties to an Alliance: Ideology and the Domestic Politics of International Institutionalization. Journal of Peace Research.
    • Hafner-Burton, E., Narang, N., Rathbun, B. C. (2019). U.S. Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump Symposium: What Is Populist Nationalism and Why Does it Matter?. Journal of Politics. Vol. 81 (2), pp. 707-711.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2018). Moral Hazard: German Public Opinion on the Greek Debt Crisis. Political Psychology.
    • Iakhnis, E., Rathbun, B. C., Reifler, J., Scotto, T. (2018). Populist Referendum: Was Brexit an Expression of Nativist and Anti-Elitist Sentiment?. Research & Politics. Vol. 5 (2)
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2018). The Rarity of Realpolitik: What Bismarck’s Rationality Tells Us about International Politics. International Security.
    • Rathbun, B. C., Kertzer, J. D., Paradis, M. (2017). Homo Diplomaticus: Mixed-Method Evidence of Variation in Strategic Rationality. International Organization. Vol. 71 (S1)
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2017). Subvert the Dominant Paradigm: Rationalism’s Status as a Paradigm of International Relations. International Relations. Vol. 31 (4), pp. 403-425.
    • Rathbun, N. S., Rathbun, B. C. (2016). Teach a Student to Fish?: International Relations in the Classroom. PS.
    • Kertzer, J. D., Rathbun, B. C. (2015). Fair is Fair: Social Preferences, Bargaining and Reciprocity in International Relations. World Politics.
    • Rathbun, B. C., Kertzer, J. D., Reifler, J., Goren, P., Scotto, T. (2015). Taking Foreign Policy Personally: Personal Values and Foreign Policy Beliefs. International Studies Quarterly.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2014). Moral Support: How Moral Values Shape Foreign Policy Attitudes. Journal of Politics.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2013). Wedges and Widgets: Liberalism, Libertarianism and the Trade Attitudes of the American Mass Public and Elites. Foreign Policy Analysis. Vol. 12 (1), pp. 85-108.
    • Hamilton, E., Rathbun, B. (2012). Scarce Differences:Towards a Material and Systemic Foundation for Offensive and Defensive Realism. Security Studies.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2012). Politics and Paradigm Preferences: The Implicit Ideology of International Relations Scholars. International Studies Quarterly.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2012). From Vicious to Virtuous Circle: Moralistic Trust, Diffuse Reciprocity, and the American Security Commitment to Europe. European Journal of International Relations.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2011). Steeped in International Affairs: The Foreign Policy Views of the Tea Party. Foreign Policy Analysis.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2011). Before Hegemony: Generalized Trust, International Cooperation and the Design of International Organizations. International Organization. Vol. 45 (2), pp. 243-273.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2011). ‘The Magnificent Fraud’: Trust, International Cooperation and the Hidden Domestic Politics of American Multilateralism after World War II. International Studies Quarterly. Vol. 55 (1), pp. 345-380.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2010). Is Anybody Not An (International Relations) Liberal?. Security Studies. Vol. 19 (2), pp. 2-25.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2009). It Takes All Types: Social Psychology, Trust and the International Relations Paradigm in Our Minds. International Theory. Vol. 1 (3), pp. 345-380.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2008). A Rose by Any other Name: Neoclassical Realism as the Natural and Necessary Extension of Neorealism. Security Studies. Vol. 17 (2), pp. 1-28.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2008). Does One Right Make a Realist?: Conservativism, Neoconservatism and Isolationism in the Foreign Policy Ideology of American Elites. Political Science Quarterly. Vol. 123 (2)
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2007). Uncertain about Uncertainty: Clarifying a Crucial Concept for International Relations Theory. International Studies Quarterly. Vol. 51 (3), pp. 271-299.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2007). 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 (3), pp. 379-407.
    • Rathbun, B. C. (2006). The Myth of German Pacifism. German Politics and Society. Vol. 24 (2), pp. 68-81.
    • Best Book Award, Foreign Policy Section, American Political Science Association, 2020-2021
    • Distinguished Scholar, Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association, 2017-2018
    • Early Sabbatical Award, USC Office of the Provost, 2015-2016
    • Best Book Award, Diplomatic Studies Section, International Studies Association, 2014-2015
    • USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award, 2009-2010