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How the scope of a demand conveys resolve

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2013

Robert F. Trager*
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles, USA


How does the scope of costless threats convey information about resolve to adversaries? Analysis of a model similar to Fearon demonstrates that higher demands increase perceptions of a state’s resolve to fight for more favorable outcomes when bargaining is such that both sides share in the benefits of avoiding conflict, in contrast to the ultimatum game, and making a credible high demand does not lead to a favorable outcome with certainty. Interestingly, compromise offers will be made even though they increase an adversary’s perception that the compromising state would be willing to make an even greater concession. In contrast to many other signaling mechanisms described in the literature, signaling of this sort does not depend on risking war and often reduces the probability of conflict.

Original Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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