CSS Research and Policy Seminar with Keren Yarhi-Milo

The Center for Strategic Studies Research and Policy Seminar series welcomed Dr. Keren Yarhi-Milo, Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies and Director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, on February 2. Yarhi-Milo presented her co-authored working paper, “The Domestic Cost of Lying about the Use of Force.” The authors ask whether or not leaders suffer any costs when they lie about the use of military force, and, if so, why, when, to what degree, and by whom. At a moment when the political costs of lying could not be more relevant in the United States, these questions are all the more pertinent.

Yarhi-Milo presented provocative results from two survey experiments. Based on detailed and sophisticated scenarios she presented to thousands of respondents, she and her co-author concluded that leaders do, in fact, suffer costs. This is true regardless of leaders’ political affiliations, the political affiliations of survey respondents, and the type of lie—although the size of costs did vary.

The paper inspired a rich discussion that centered on the nature of these costs and the future directions survey experiments can take. Seminar participants were left a little more hopeful about a world with real consequences for lying. CSS thanks Yarhi-Milo for her participation in the seminar series and looks forward to the publication of the working paper.

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