Strategic Foresight

Reports and papers

Bias in the analysis of political violence

18 Jan 2018 - 13:41
Bron: Mstyslav Chernov - Wikimedia Commons
Pride and Prejudice - Addressing bias in the analysis of political violence

Unbiased conflict information gathering and analyses are essential for policy-makers and researchers alike. Yet, biases are very common in conflict settings: much needed information is often distorted and sometimes even unavailable. 

This report discusses eight common biases at the information gathering and analysis stages, based on a review of qualitative and quantitative literature. Four biases during information gathering are a lack of knowledge on how much information we miss, short-field visits resulting in limited information gathering, a major urban bias, and known blank-spots in our gathering of information. Bias common to the analysis of information is conflict and information framing. A proper understanding of those biases enables policy-makers and researchers to better alleviate these problems. This report therefore provides practical suggestions on how to address each bias.