Iris Malone


Iris Malone is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Political Science Department at Stanford University. Her research develops and tests new theories about international conflict. She is currently working on two projects that examine why civil wars begin and how uncertainty affects interstate conflict.

Her book-style dissertation, “Insurgency Formation and Civil War Onset,” asks why some armed conflicts escalate into civil wars while others do not. It also introduces a new large-scale dataset on the characteristics of 1,570 armed groups to ground future empirical work on insurgency and terrorism dynamics.

In the dissertation, Iris develops a new theory about how asymmetric information increases the risk of civil war. Using formal logic, elite interviews, and machine learning techniques, she argues states decide how much counterinsurgency effort to allocate for repression on the basis of observable characteristics about an armed group's capabilities, but two scenarios make it harder to get this decision right, increasing the risk of civil war. For scholars, these findings advance scholarly understanding about why civil wars begin and the effect of uncertainty on conflict. For policy-makers, these findings reveal the types of insurgent threats most deserving of attention.

Iris Malone's research is supported, in part, by the Tobin Project , the Institute for Reseach in the Social Sciences , the Stanford Europe Center, the Stanford Vice Provost for Graduate Education, and a research grant from Milt Lauenstein.

Research Interests


Insurgency Formation

How do militant groups grow and evolve over time? When do militant groups become more violent?


Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism

What shapes counterinsurgency strategies? How do these affect militant violence?


Risk, Uncertainty, and War

How do states identify and assess emerging security threats? What is the effect of uncertainty on war?

Contact Me


(530) 559-7645

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