Taking Dyads Seriously: A Latent Network Approach for Global Politics

International relations scholarship is filled with dyads. This includes dyadic hypotheses and propositions, but especially data. These relational data contain information about the interdependencies of various phenomena, including countries, dyads, and even triads. However, most empirical studies of such data do not take into account these dependencies. As a result, the studies are often contradictory and produce results that are not compelling. One reason is that the independence required by the typical methods employed does not exist in the data being studied. We present a different, regression based method, which constructs a latent network which incorporates \first, \second, and \third-order dependencies. We replicate four prominent studies in recent IR scholarship and compare the standard approach to the latent factor approach. The additive and multiplicative latent factor approach is shown to produce more precise estimates of covariate effects, and it also dominates standard approaches in terms of out-of-sample cross-validations.