Revisiting the problem of credibility in the age of post-truth

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Abstract

This essay raises the question whether citizens in the digital age can learn from how credibility is treated in international negotiations. Negotiators face problems both in attempting to send credible signals and in making credibility assessments of received signals. Several studies, starting with Schelling's seminal analysis of commitments, indicate that credible signals are those that are somehow costly to the sender. Contributions to our understanding of how recipients make credibility assessments include Jervis's distinction between signals (with no inherent credibility) and indices (believed to be untainted by deception). The most general conclusion emerging from existing research is that there is no definitive, infallible solution to the problem of credibility, insofar as deception and misperception are intrinsic to all signaling systems. Today's unfortunate combination of limited awareness of credibility problems, on the one hand, and technological advances facilitating deception, on the other, calls for intensified education as well as multidisciplinary research.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Keywords

  • Cheap talk, Coercive diplomacy, Commitment, Credibility, Deception, Signaling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-92
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Negotiation
Volume25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes