Science & Tech

Which side are you on?

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Bias, credibility, and mediation

Andrew Kydd is an assistant professor of government at Harvard University who has developed an interesting theory about mediation. As Kydd writes in the introduction to a working paper, “Mediators are often thought to be more effective if they are unbiased, or have no preferences over the issue in dispute. … For a mediator to be effective, however, the parties must believe that the mediator is telling the truth, especially if the mediator counsels one side not to make a large demand because their opponent has high resolve and will fight. An unbiased mediator who is simply interested in minimizing the probability of war will have a strong incentive to make such statements even if they are not true, hence the parties will not find the mediator credible.”