Social Memory, Evidence, and Conflict
AbstractThis paper examines an equilibrium model of social memory -- a society's vicarious beliefs about its past. We show that incorrect social memory is a key ingredient in creating and perpetuating destructive conflicts. We analyze an infinite-horizon model in which two countries face off each period in a game of conflict characterized by the possibility of mutually destructive "all out war" that yields catastrophic consequences for both sides. Each country is inhabited by a dynastic sequence of individuals. Each individual cares about future individuals in the same country, and can communicate with the next generation of their countrymen using private messages. Social memory is based on these messages, and on physical evidence -- a sequence of imperfectly informative public signals of past behavior. We find that if the future is sufficiently important for all individuals, then regardless of the precision of physical evidence from the past there is an equilibrium in which the two countries engage in all out war with arbitrarily high frequency, an outcome that cannot arise in the standard repeated game. In our construction, each new generation "repeats the mistakes" of its predecessors, leading to an endless cycle of destructive behavior. Surprisingly, we find that degrading the quality of information that individuals have about current decisions may "improve" social memory. This in turn ensures that arbitrarily frequent all out wars cannot occur. (Copyright: Elsevier)
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.
Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Review of Economic Dynamics Academic Press Editorial Office 525 "B" Street, Suite 1900 San Diego, CA 92101
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/review.htm
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
- D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2010.
"Conflict and Deterrence under Strategic Risk,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1821-1858, November.
- Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Pierre Yared, 2011.
"A Dynamic Theory of Resource Wars,"
NBER Working Papers
16682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alessandro Riboni, 2010. "Doubts and Dogmatism in Conflict Behavior," 2010 Meeting Papers 296, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Pierre Yared & Gerard Padro i Miquel, 2010. "The Political Economy of Indirect Control," 2010 Meeting Papers 306, Society for Economic Dynamics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.