Deborah Larson

North America
University of California, Los Angeles


Deborah Welch Larson is professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University.  Her research interests include the role of status concerns in influencing foreign policy, trust, and the use of psychology to explain American foreign policy decision making.  Her publications include: Origins of Containment: A Psychological Explanation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985); Anatomy of Mistrust: US-Soviet Relations during the Cold War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997); and Status and World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) (co-edited with T. V. Paul and William Wohlforth). Her book Anatomy of Mistrust applies social psychology to history to show how mistrust led to missed opportunities for U.S.-Soviet cooperation. That book continues to provoke scholarly interest and was featured at a 2011 conference of political scientists and historians at the Woodrow Wilson Center and in a subsequent edited volume by Stanford University Press, Trust but Verify (2016). She has most recently published Quest for Status: Chinese and Russian Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019), with Alexei Shevchenko, which uses social identity theory from social psychology to explain how China and Russia have used various strategies of emulation, competition, and creativity to gain recognition from other countries and thus validate their respective identities. Larson was a member of the Distinguished Jury for the 2019 Grawemeyer World Order Award.  Larson has served as Chair of the International History and Politics Section and President of the Foreign Policy Section for the American Political Science Association.  She was President of the Foreign Policy Analysis Section of the International Studies Association.  She is currently an Associate Editor for the journal Foreign Policy Analysis.