The effects of group social pressures on Foreign Policy Decisionmaking in the executive branch were a prominent topic of research in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, featuring multiple models designed to explain how President’s decisions could be made successfully or unsuccessfully. Models such as the Bureaucratic Model, Groupthink, and the Multiple Advocacy Model attempted to explain how highly competent groups of decision makers could sometimes make decisions as flawed as Watergate and the invasion of Vietnam. While the research covered in great detail some of the most prominent cases of decisionmaking of the time, many modern cases seem worthy of analysis as well. This study looks at three important cases, President Obama’s decision to go ahead with the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and President H.W. Bush’s decision to get involved with (and end) the Gulf War. Then, it applies to the cases a modern interpretation of the Groupthink and Multiple Advocacy Models, allowing for a flexible look at social roles in presidential decisionmaking. This study finds that when the role of Custodian is understood broadly, the utilization of a Custodian role in Presidential decisionmaking helps allow a group to avoid an overly competitive decisionmaking process, as well as the ills of an overly cohesive group, outlined by the Groupthink model.


Van Doorn, Bas


Political Science


American Politics

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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