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The Desire for Revenge and the Dynamics of Conflicts

  • Amegashie, J. Atsu
  • Runkel, Marco

We model an infinitely-repeated conflict between two factions who both have a desire to exact revenge for past destruction suffered. The destruction suffered by a player is a stock that grows according to his opponent’s destructive efforts and the rate at which past destruction is forgotten (i.e., depreciates). This gives a differential game. We find that a desire for revenge can cause a low-ability player to exert a higher effort than a high-ability player, which means that the former may have a higher probability of success in a given period. Given a desire for revenge, we find that, the conflict initially escalates and eventually reaches a steady state. When there is no desire for revenge, the conflict reaches a steady state immediately. The conflict is sufficiently less destructive if the rate at which past destruction is forgotten is sufficiently high. We briefly discuss how our results apply to the USA’s invasion of Iraq, reconstruction assistance to Lebanon after the 1975-1990 war, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 6746.

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Date of creation: 14 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:6746
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  1. Garfinkel, M.R. & Skaperdas, S., 2000. "Conflict without Misperceptions or Incomplete Information: how the Future Matters," Papers 99-00-11, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  2. Kai A. Konrad & Dan Kovenock, 2005. "Equilibrium and Efficiency in the Tug-of-War," CESifo Working Paper Series 1564, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-39, September.
  4. Amegashie, J. Atsu & Kutsoati, Edward, 2007. "(Non)intervention in intra-state conflicts," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 754-767, September.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser, 2002. "The Political Economy of Hatred," NBER Working Papers 9171, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cohen, Chen & Sela, Aner, 2005. "Manipulations in contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 135-139, January.
  7. R. Preston Mcafee & Hugo M. Mialon & Sue H. Mialon, 2010. "Do Sunk Costs Matter?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 323-336, 04.
  8. Che, Yeon-Koo & Gale, Ian, 2000. "Difference-Form Contests and the Robustness of All-Pay Auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 22-43, January.
  9. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  10. Chang, Yang-Ming & Potter, Joel & Sanders, Shane, 2007. "War and peace: Third-party intervention in conflict," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 954-974, December.
  11. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
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