The study of rivalries, long running dyadic relationships between competing nations, continues to remain relevant even in the current era. Rivalries are a catalyst for conflict. A handful of rivalries accounts for a disproportionate number of militarized interstate disputes (Geller 1993). This means studying rivalries and determining what causes rivalries to end offer the potential to substantially decrease the number of militarized disputes and other conflicts that occur between states. Furthermore, while the termination of rivalries has been studied in depth (Bennett 1996; Gibler 1997; Thompson 1999; Hensel, Goertz, and Diehl 2000; Colaresi 2001), previous works fail to provide a theory to explain the common factors that lead to rivalry termination.
In this paper, I postulate a theory to explain how previously discovered causes of rivalry termination fit together in one cohesive explanation. To do this, I utilize elements of prospect theory to form a theoretical conceptualization of how states perceive losses and gains and how state perceptions of gains and losses lead to rivalry termination.
First, this paper contains a survey of existing research on the termination of rivalries. Second, the paper contains a theoretical framework to explain why rivalries end. Third, it quantitatively measures and empirically tests this framework to determine its accuracy. Fourth, this paper contains an analysis of our results and the implications they have for the study of rivalries.