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A Study of the Triggers of Conflict and Emotional Reactions


  • Caldara, Michael
  • McBride, Michael
  • McCarter, Matthew
  • Sheremeta, Roman


We study three triggers of conflict and explore their resultant emotional reactions in a laboratory experiment. Economists suggest that the primary trigger of conflict is monetary incentives. Social psychologists suggest that conflicts are often triggered by fear. Finally, evolutionary biologists suggest that a third trigger is uncertainty about opponent’s desire to cause harm. Consistent with the predictions from economics, social psychology, and evolutionary biology, we find that conflict originates from all three triggers. The three triggers differently impact the frequency of conflict, but not the intensity. Also, we find that the frequency and intensity of conflict decrease positive emotions and increase negative emotions, and that conflict impacts negative emotions more than positive emotions.

Suggested Citation

  • Caldara, Michael & McBride, Michael & McCarter, Matthew & Sheremeta, Roman, 2017. "A Study of the Triggers of Conflict and Emotional Reactions," MPRA Paper 78049, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:78049

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Curtis R. Price & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2015. "Endowment Origin, Demographic Effects, and Individual Preferences in Contests," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 597-619, September.
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    1. repec:gam:jgames:v:8:y:2017:i:4:p:42-:d:113917 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jgames:v:8:y:2017:i:2:p:22-:d:99106 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    conflict; incentives; fear; uncertainty; laboratory experiment; reverse dictator game; joy of destruction game;

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

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