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Why can’t we be friends? Entitlements and the costs of conflict

Author

Listed:
  • Erik O Kimbrough

    (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University
    Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)

  • Roman M Sheremeta

    (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University & Economic Science Institute, Chapman University
    Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University & Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

Abstract

We design an experiment to explore the impact of earned entitlements on the frequency and intensity of conflicts in a two-stage conflict game where players may attempt to use non-binding side-payments to avoid conflict. In this game, Proposers make offers and Responders decide simultaneously whether to accept the offers and whether to engage in a conflict. A simple theoretical analysis suggests that Proposers should never offer side-payments because Responders should always accept them and then still choose to enter conflict; however, our experiment reveals that some individuals use this non-binding mechanism to avoid conflict. Moreover, when subjects earn their roles (Proposer or Responder), conflicts are 44% more likely to be avoided than when roles are assigned randomly. Earned entitlements impact behavior in three important ways: (1) Proposers who have earned their position persistently make larger offers; (2) larger offers lead to a lower probability of conflict; but (3) Proposers whose offers do not lead to conflict resolution respond spitefully with greater conflict expenditure. Hence, with earned rights, the positive welfare effects of reduced conflict frequency are offset by higher conflict intensity. This result differs from previous experimental evidence from ultimatum games in which earned entitlements tend to encourage agreement and increase welfare; thus, our findings highlight the important consequences of endogenizing the costs of conflict. Our analysis suggests that earned entitlements alter behavior by influencing the beliefs of Proposers about the willingness of Responders to accept a peaceful resolution. As a result, these Proposers make persistent high offers, and when their beliefs are disappointed by a Responder’s decision to accept a side-payment and still enter conflict, they retaliate.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik O Kimbrough & Roman M Sheremeta, 2014. "Why can’t we be friends? Entitlements and the costs of conflict," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 51(4), pages 487-500, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:51:y:2014:i:4:p:487-500
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Klarizze Anne Puzon & Marc Willinger, 2015. "Malevolent Governance, Intra-Group Conflict and the Paradox of the Plenty: An Experiment," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-11, December.
    2. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2016. "The pros and cons of workplace tournaments," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 302-302, October.
    3. Bayer, Ralph-Christopher, 2016. "Cooperation and distributive conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 88-109.
    4. Michael Caldara & Michael T. McBride & Matthew W. McCarter & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2017. "A Study of the Triggers of Conflict and Emotional Reactions," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-12, April.
    5. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2014. "Behavioral Dimensions of Contests," Working Papers 14-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    6. Oliver Kirchkamp & Wladislaw Mill, 2018. "Conditional Cooperation and the Effect of Punishment," CESifo Working Paper Series 7115, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. repec:bla:jecsur:v:32:y:2018:i:3:p:683-704 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:joepsy:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:216-229 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Erik O. Kimbrough & Kevin Laughren & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2017. "War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends," Working Papers 17-13, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    10. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2018. "Behavior In Group Contests: A Review Of Experimental Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 683-704, July.
    11. repec:eee:joepsy:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:199-215 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2015. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(4), pages 609-669, December.
    13. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Rubin, Jared & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2015. "Commitment problems in conflict resolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 33-45.
    14. Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "Behavior in Contests," MPRA Paper 57451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Herbst, Luisa & Konrad, Kai A. & Morath, Florian, 2017. "Balance of power and the propensity of conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 168-184.
    16. Sheely, Ryan, 2015. "Mobilization, Participatory Planning Institutions, and Elite Capture: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 251-266.
    17. Lacomba, Juan A. & Lagos, Francisco & Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2017. "Decisiveness, peace, and inequality in games of conflict," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 216-229.
    18. Marco Faillo & Matteo Rizzolli & Stephan Tontrup, 2016. "Thou shalt not steal (from hard-working people)An experiment on respect for property claims," Econometica Working Papers wp58, Econometica.
    19. repec:elg:eechap:15325_10 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael, 2016. "Equity and bargaining power in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 144-165.
    21. repec:gam:jgames:v:7:y:2015:i:1:p:2:d:61440 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Klarizze Puzon & Marc Willinger, 2014. "Do malevolent leaders provoke conflict? An experiment on the paradox of the plenty," Working Papers 14-10, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2014.

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