Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-10-2023


Farson, Grace. Using Game Theory to Model Tripolar Deterrence and Escalation Dynamics. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2023


Copyright Grace Farson 2023


The study investigated how game theory can been utilized to model multipolar escalation dynamics between Russia, China, and the United States. In addition, the study focused on analyzing various parameters that affected potential conflict outcomes to further new deterrence thought in a tripolar environment.

A preliminary game theoretic model was created to model and analyze escalation dynamics. The model was built upon framework presented by Zagare and Kilgour in their work ‘Perfect Deterrence’. The model is based on assumptions and rules set prior to game play. The model was then analyzed based upon these assumptions using a form of mathematical backwards induction applicable to game theorists. Then, potential outcomes were evaluated to produce deterrence recommendations.

To accomplish this objective, a hypothesis was set and then compared to the final research results. Based upon the comparison, final conclusions and recommendations were made. The result obtained through game theory and research was according to the hypothesis set and this thesis describes the reasons and theory behind satisfying the hypothesis.