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The Paradoxes of Revenge in Conflicts

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  • J. Atsu Amegashie
  • Marco Runkel

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.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Atsu Amegashie & Marco Runkel, 2008. "The Paradoxes of Revenge in Conflicts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2261, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2261
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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

    More about this item

    Keywords

    conflict; commitment; differential game; revenge;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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