Jennifer Kavanagh

Photo of Jennifer Kavanagh
Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


Ph.D. in political science, University of Michigan; M.A. in political science, University of Michigan; B.A. in government, Harvard University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

More Experts


Jennifer Kavanagh is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and associate director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in the RAND Arroyo Center. Her research focuses on U.S. political institutions and public opinion and their implications for U.S. foreign and domestic policy. She also studies political uses of mis- and disinformation. In her work for the U.S. Army, Jennifer studies military interventions and U.S. force posture. Her recent book, co-authored with RAND’s CEO Michael Rich, defines “Truth Decay” as the diminishing reliance on facts and data in U.S. political and civil discourse and describes its causes and consequences. Kavanagh is also a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and teaches research methods courses as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

While completing her Ph.D., she was a Department of Homeland Security fellow and completed a research internship at Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Kavanagh graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in government and a minor in the Russian language. She completed her Ph.D. in political science and public policy at University of Michigan. Her dissertation, "The Dynamics of Protracted Terror Campaigns: Domestic Politics, Terrorist Violence, Counterterror Responses" was named the best dissertation in the public policy subfield in 2010 by the American Political Science Association.

Selected Publications

Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich, An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life, RAND Corporation (RR-2314-RC), 2018

Honors & Awards

  • Department of Homeland Security Fellowship, Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology
  • Best Dissertation in Public Policy Subfield, 2010, American Political Science Association

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: C-SPAN Online; Connecticut Public Radio; Newsy; WhoWhatWhy; Zócalo Public Square

Commentary: CNN Online; E!Sharp; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; United Press International Online; USA Today Online


  • Top view of a young man with a stack of overdue bills

    What Keeps Millennials Awake at Night Could Change Over Time

    Millennials are less worried than baby boomers about national security topics and more worried about kitchen table issues, such as making ends meet each month and paying off debts. But this may have less to do with the fact that they are millennials and more to do with the fact that millennials are young.

    Jul 30, 2018 United Press International

  • Oakland Athletics second baseman Jed Lowrie hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, July 7, 2018

    Truth Decay, America's Latest Pastime

    Detailed data and complex analysis are the foundation of decisionmaking in baseball and many other professions and occupations. But facts are out of favor in current U.S. political and civil discourse, and the public policymaking that accompanies it.

    Jul 12, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Word truth written with wooden letters on rustic surface

    In Reckoning with Today's Truth Wars, Look to America's Past

    The declining regard for factual evidence may be a defining characteristic of our current age. Previous eras suggest it is within society's power to restore respect for objective facts. Humankind just needs to put it on the agenda.

    Jun 19, 2018 CNN

  • Person reading news on a phone and a tablet

    People—Not the Tech Companies—Will Ultimately Stop Disinformation in Europe

    Authorities can continue to seek to punish the tech companies for the circulation of false articles. But this is unlikely to make a difference until more people take the time and acquire the skills to distinguish between fact and fiction.

    Apr 9, 2018 E!Sharp

  • Torn American flag waving in the wind on a cloudy day

    The Diminishing Role of Facts in American Public Life

    Without agreement about objective facts and a common understanding of and respect for data and analytical interpretations of those data, it becomes nearly impossible to have the types of meaningful policy debates that form the foundation of democracy.

    Jan 17, 2018 USA Today

  • The word truth in fading black paint

    How RAND Is Responding to Truth Decay: Q&A with Michael Rich and Jennifer Kavanagh

    RAND's Michael Rich and Jennifer Kavanagh explain what "Truth Decay" is and discuss how ongoing RAND research could help counter it.

    May 5, 2017