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The Paradoxes of Revenge in Conflicts

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  • Amegashie, J. Atsu
  • Runkel, Marco

Abstract

We consider a differential game of a conflict between two factions who both have a desire to exact revenge. We show that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, the desire for revenge need not lead to escalation of conflicts. Surprisingly, in the open-loop equilibrium, the weaker faction exerts a higher effort when the stronger faction’s military capability increases. This result is not possible in the absence of a desire for revenge. The closed-loop equilibrium is characterized by a self-deterrence effect: Anticipating the future retaliation of the opponent, a faction has an incentive to exert lower effort today. This strengthens the tendency to a stable steady state and paradoxically may decrease the factions’ effort below the levels exerted in the case without revenge. We discuss some applications of our results and also offer an explanation of a puzzling empirical result obtained by Jaeger and Paserman (2007) in their study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We also discuss the implications of revenge-dependent preferences for welfare economics and their strategic value as commitment devices.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 7687.

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Date of creation: 11 Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7687

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Keywords: conflict; commitment; differential game; revenge;

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  1. David A. Jaeger & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "The Cycle of Violence? An Empirical Analysis of Fatalities in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict," Working Papers 22, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
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Cited by:
  1. Steven Tucker & Charles Noussair & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, 07.
  2. Gürtler, Oliver & Münster, Johannes, 2013. "Rational self-sabotage," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-4.
  3. Van Long, Ngo, 2013. "The theory of contests: A unified model and review of the literature," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 161-181.
  4. Smith, Adam C. & Houser, Daniel & Leeson, Peter T. & Ostad, Ramin, 2014. "The costs of conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 61-71.

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