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Inter-Group Conflict and Intra-Group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game

Author

Listed:
  • Klaus Abbink

    () (CREED, University of Amsterdam)

  • Jordi Brandts

    () (Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), Barcelona)

  • Benedikt Herrmann

    () (University of Nottingham)

  • Henrik Orzen

    () (University of Nottingham)

Abstract

We study how conflict in a contest game is influenced by rival parties being groups and by group members being able to punish each other. Our main motivation stems from the analysis of socio-political conflict. The relevant theoretical prediction in our setting is that conflict expenditures are independent of group size and independent of whether punishment is available or not. We find, first, that our results contradict the independence of groupsize prediction: conflict expenditures of groups are substantially larger than those of individuals, and both are substantially above equilibrium. Towards the end of the experiment material losses in groups are 257% of the predicted level. There is, however, substantial heterogeneity in the investment behaviour of individual group members. Second, allowing group members to punish each other after individual contributions to the contest effort are revealed leads to even larger conflict expenditures. Now material losses are 869% of the equilibrium level and there is much less heterogeneity in individual group members’ investments. These results contrast strongly with those from public goods experiments where punishment enhances efficiency and leads to higher material payoffs.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2007. "Inter-Group Conflict and Intra-Group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," Discussion Papers 2007-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2007-15
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Laboratory experiments; Rent-seeking; Conflict; Group competitiveness;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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