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A Bargaining Model of Domestic Politics and the Cost of War
Unformatted Document Text:  in bargaining and war. The second problem the bargaining model poses lies in empirical testing. Standard historical data sets provide some, but certainly not enough, information to fully evaluate the propositions of the bargaining model. The relative dearth of empirical investigations of bargaining models is due, in part, to the fact that many of the key conceptual elements of the bargaining model lack direct (or even indirect) empirical measures. To address the observability problem, we turn to laboratory experiments to shed light on how the bargaining structure shapes decision making, and to evaluate when and why decision makers diverge from equilibrium strategies. The use of experimental methods to evaluate predictions from the bargaining model is important because they move us beyond measurement issues that hinder non-experimental approaches. In the laboratory we can specify and measure the effects of variables that are difficult or impossible to assess empirically. In the context of bargaining, we can set and evaluate the effects of initial shares and probability of success on players’ decisions. This aspect gives us a direct test for the bargaining model’s predictions. Moreover, sufficient replications of each treatment permit one to see causal relationships and gauge variability due to individual effects. While experiments with financially motivated subjects intentionally sacrifice some richness in context, this is done for gains in replication and control (e.g. Davis & Holt 1993). These advantages can be quite important, since actual political conflicts are surrounded by a rich and unique array of parallel events and personalities which sometimes make it hard to spot underlying factors that may influence outcomes in a predictable manner. Our goals in this paper are aimed at addressing the two persistent problems identified above. First, we produce a formal analysis of the bargaining model that allows deviations from equilibrium due to noise surrounding beliefs about the other side’s rationality. We construct a quantal response model that characterizes the distribution of behavior around a Nash equilibrium depending on those beliefs. Second, we report results of laboratory experiments designed explicitly from the structure and predictions of the bargaining model 2

Authors: Clark, David., Holt, Charles., Nordstrom, Timothy., Reed, William. and Sieberg, Katri.
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in bargaining and war.
The second problem the bargaining model poses lies in empirical testing.
Standard
historical data sets provide some, but certainly not enough, information to fully evaluate
the propositions of the bargaining model. The relative dearth of empirical investigations
of bargaining models is due, in part, to the fact that many of the key conceptual elements
of the bargaining model lack direct (or even indirect) empirical measures. To address the
observability problem, we turn to laboratory experiments to shed light on how the bargaining
structure shapes decision making, and to evaluate when and why decision makers diverge
from equilibrium strategies. The use of experimental methods to evaluate predictions from
the bargaining model is important because they move us beyond measurement issues that
hinder non-experimental approaches. In the laboratory we can specify and measure the
effects of variables that are difficult or impossible to assess empirically. In the context of
bargaining, we can set and evaluate the effects of initial shares and probability of success on
players’ decisions. This aspect gives us a direct test for the bargaining model’s predictions.
Moreover, sufficient replications of each treatment permit one to see causal relationships and
gauge variability due to individual effects. While experiments with financially motivated
subjects intentionally sacrifice some richness in context, this is done for gains in replication
and control (e.g. Davis & Holt 1993).
These advantages can be quite important, since
actual political conflicts are surrounded by a rich and unique array of parallel events and
personalities which sometimes make it hard to spot underlying factors that may influence
outcomes in a predictable manner.
Our goals in this paper are aimed at addressing the two persistent problems identified
above. First, we produce a formal analysis of the bargaining model that allows deviations
from equilibrium due to noise surrounding beliefs about the other side’s rationality. We
construct a quantal response model that characterizes the distribution of behavior around
a Nash equilibrium depending on those beliefs. Second, we report results of laboratory
experiments designed explicitly from the structure and predictions of the bargaining model
2


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