Universiteit Leiden

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Researching Terrorism in the Lab

  • Professor Catherine Eckel
Wednesday 6 July 2016
Koningin Julianaplein 10 (13th floor)
2595 AA The Hague
Lange Voorhout

The DGA seminars are biweekly events on topics related to diplomacy, global affairs and political economy broadly conceived. The talk of this second seminar will be held by Prof Catherine Eckel (Texas A&M University). She will speak about ‘Researching Terrorism in the Lab’. The paper, which will be at the core of Prof Eckel's lecture, is available.

About the talk

Experimental research has a long-established tradition in psychology and sociology, and a more recent but important history as a useful methodology in economics.

During the DGA seminar Prof. Catherine Eckel will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of experiments as a method for studying terrorism and other national security topics. For example, given the paucity of data on counterterror policy decisions by governments, as well as for planning, targeting and selecting methods of attack by terrorist organizers, the experimental approach can substitute for this lack of field data. Experiments can also identify policy counterfactuals that might otherwise be unobservable.

Prof. Eckel will further discuss several theoretical themes in the analysis of terrorism: interdependent security games such as airline screening; the dual nature of pre-emptive versus deterrent counterterror policies and the implications of this duality for policy coordination among targeted nations; the resurgence of interest in Colonel Blotto games when properly adjusted to reflect the asymmetric conflict between target governments and terrorist groups; and the relationship between terrorist activity and extreme punishments (or vendettas).

In the last part, Prof. Eckel will propose new directions for terrorism researchers to explore.


The next seminar in this series will take place in September. Each seminar will last 1.5 hours, the presentation should not take more than 45 minutes, so that ample time remains for discussion.

Registration is not required. For more information please contact Prof Madeleine Hosli or Dr Jaroslaw Kantorowicz.

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