An empirical test of The audience cost proposition: Democracy speaks louder than words
Fearon (1994a) concludes that democracies should be less likely to back down in crises and thus be able signal resolve more effectively than autocratic states. The authors evaluate this argument against the population of conflicts identified by the SHERFACS phase-disaggregated conflict management data set. Their findings indicate that domestic characteristics of democracies enable them to communicate intentions effectively. Between 1945 and 1984, conflicts between pairs of democratic states have been found to have fewer phases than those involving at least one autocratic state. This suggests that the information conveyed by the regime type of a state may help resolve the security dilemma by providing communication between democracies. This finding also supports an integration of existing explanations of the democratic peace.