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The Paradox of Revenge in Conflicts

Author

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  • J. Atsu Amegashie
  • Marco Runkel

Abstract

The authors consider a two-period game of conflict between two factions, which have a desire for revenge. It is shown that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, the desire for revenge need not lead to escalation of the conflict. The subgame-perfect equilibrium is characterized by two effects: a value of revenge effect (i.e., the benefit of exacting revenge) and a self-deterrence effect (i.e., the fear of an opponent’s desire to exact revenge). The authors construct examples where the equilibrium is such that the self-deterrence effect paradoxically outweighs the value effect and thereby decreases the factions’ aggregate effort below the level exerted in the no-revenge case. This paradox of revenge is more likely, the more elastically the benefit of revenge reacts to the destruction suffered in the past and the more asymmetric is the conflict. The authors discuss the implications of revenge-dependent preferences for welfare economics, evolutionary stability, and their strategic value as commitment devices.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Atsu Amegashie & Marco Runkel, 2012. "The Paradox of Revenge in Conflicts," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 56(2), pages 313-330, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:56:y:2012:i:2:p:313-330
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gürtler, Oliver & Münster, Johannes, 2013. "Rational self-sabotage," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-4.
    2. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2013. "Overbidding And Heterogeneous Behavior In Contest Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 491-514, July.
    3. repec:elg:eechap:15325_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    conflict; paradox; revenge; subgame-perfect equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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