Social Memory, Evidence, and Conflict
This 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)
Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Marina Azzimonti, Department of Economics, Stonybrook University, 10 Nicolls Road, Stonybrook NY 11790 USA|
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/red/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Web: https://www.economicdynamics.org/subscription-information/ Email: |
References listed on IDEAS
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,
Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1821-1858.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:issued:08-92. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
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.