Most of the empirical work on lateral pressure theory address the propensity for expansion of behavior outside territorial boundaries with reference to actual behavior (rather than propensity).  While this is entirely consistent with the theory, it bypasses the thorny problem of metricizing the propensity variable and then examines its connections to actual behavior. More recently we developed the Lateral Pressure Index in order to quantify propensity for expansion and to the extent possible, to highlight the relative salience of individual drivers.  After some experimental, we framed the Lateral Pressure Index as a function of the geographic mean of its master variables:

This leads us to the question: Is the state’s propensity to expand in the traditional domain similar to, or congruent with, the expansion propensity in the cyber arena? Some inferences can be derived by comparing expansion in these two domains, but differences in indicators and metrics make it difficult to compare the indicators, and force us to focus on the within-domain inferences as well as the differences in states posture, both within and across domains.

When we consider the ranking of states by expansionist tendencies, in Figure below, several results stand out: China has the greatest propensity for expansion in the real and the cyber domains, the United States ranks second, and third is India. We can identify the leading master variable in each case, which for space limitations, we do not discuss here. When we come to the ranking states situated from the fourth position onward, we find notable differences in cross-domain postures. Note the differences in rankings of Russia and Italy in the real vs. the cyber lateral pressure.


Top-ranking states ordered by "real” lateral index and identified by “real” state profile type, 2014.

In the Figure below we display states along their "Real" Lateral Pressure Index differentiate in terms of profile type defined here (with technology in the diagonal).

Top-ranking states ordered by "real” lateral index for each “real” state profile type, 2014.

We now turn to propensity for expansion in the cyber domain. The Figure below displays the top 20 states with the highest propensity for cyber-domain expansion, as well as their cyber profile type. In this connection, clearly Vietnam has a notable cyber presence. Iran, by contrast, shows no visible propensity for expansion in the cyber domain.

Top-ranking states ordered by cyber lateral index and identified by cyber state profile type, 2013.

The Figure below shows states ordered by the cyber profile and differentiated in six profiles. Note. The case of Saudi Arabia, relative to its real lateral pressure index the Kingdom demonstrates little if any propensity for expansion in the cyber arena.

Top-ranking states ordered by cyber lateral index for each cyber state profile type, 2013.

This still leaves us with the question:  are the overall lateral pressure patterns similar or different when they are manifested in “real” versus “cyber” contexts?  The figures above suggest that when viewed at the state level, the answer is: it depends on the state, but in general there are variations across the two domains.  The Figure below provides a system-wide view and on this basis alone, it is fair to infer that, at the the international level of analysis, the trends are  are generally similar.  China still retains its position of greatest propensity for expansion in the real and the cyber arenas.

At this point, these patterns appear fairly robust.  We have remained as close to the empirical data as possible, without resorting to added assumptions at the basis of statistical inferences or dynamic modeling.  The reason is this:  It is important to obtain an empirically based view of the new domain of interaction. We have encountered the same challenge when we considered the impacts of states on the natural environment. At that time, scholars of international relations had not yet begun to address the environmental aspects of world politics—how the state system affects the natural environment, and how the natural can influence power and politics among states. At this point, no one considers the natural environment to be invariable.  Thus the development of environmental metrics many years ago enabled our understanding of the state-environment interactions. The same may well hold for our understanding of the cyber domain.

Comparison of “Real” (2014) and cyber (2013) lateral pressure index for states (logarithmic scale).