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

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  • Kimbrough, Erik
  • Sheremeta, Roman

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

  • Kimbrough, Erik & Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "Why can’t we be friends? Entitlements and the costs of conflict," MPRA Paper 53253, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53253
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Bayer, Ralph-Christopher, 2016. "Cooperation and distributive conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 88-109.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2016. "The pros and cons of workplace tournaments," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 302-302, October.
    8. 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.
    9. Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael, 2016. "Equity and bargaining power in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 144-165.
    10. repec:gam:jgames:v:7:y:2015:i:1:p:2:d:61440 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
    12. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2014. "Behavioral Dimensions of Contests," Working Papers 14-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Sheremeta, Roman M. & Shields, Timothy W., 2014. "When parity promotes peace: Resolving conflict between asymmetric agents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 96-108.
    14. Erik O. Kimbrough & Kevin Laughren & Roman Sheremeta, 2017. "War and Conflict in Economics: Theories, Applications, and Recent Trends," Discussion Papers dp17-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    15. Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "Behavior in Contests," MPRA Paper 57451, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. Oliver Kirchkamp & Wladislaw Mill, 2018. "Conditional Cooperation and the Effect of Punishment," CESifo Working Paper Series 7115, CESifo Group Munich.
    19. repec:eee:joepsy:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:199-215 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:elg:eechap:15325_10 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Klarizze Puzon & Marc Willinger, 2014. "Do malevolent leaders provoke conflict? An experiment on the paradox of the plenty," Working Papers 14-10, LAMETA, Universitiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2014.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    contests; conflict resolution; side-payments; entitlements; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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