Audience cost

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An audience cost is a term in international relations theory that describes the penalty a leader incurs from his or her constituency if they escalate a foreign policy crisis and are then seen as backing down.[1] The term was popularized in a 1994 academic article by James Fearon.[2][3]


  1. ^ James Fearon (7 September 2013). "'Credibility' is not everything but it's not nothing either". The Monkey Cage. Retrieved 8 January 2014. I'm drawing here on arguments about what the IR literature usually calls 'audience costs,' which are domestic political costs a leader may pay for escalating an international dispute, or for making implicit or explicit threats, and then backing down or not following through. 
  2. ^ Fearon, James D. (September 1994). "Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Dispute". American Political Science Review. 88 (3): 577–592. doi:10.2307/2944796. JSTOR 2944796. 
  3. ^ Tomz, Michael (2007). "Domestic Audience Costs in International Relations: An Experimental Approach". International Organization. 61 (4): 821–40. doi:10.1017/S0020818307070282. ISSN 0020-8183. The seminal article is Fearon 1994.