Doubts and Dogmatism in Conflict Behavior

50 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2010

See all articles by Alessandro Riboni

Alessandro Riboni

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris - Laboratoire d'Econometrie

Date Written: February 6, 2010


This paper studies a game of conflict where two individuals fight in order to choose a policy. Intuitively, conflicts will be less violent if individuals entertain the possibility that their opponent may be right. Why is it so difficult to observe this attitude? To answer this question, this paper considers a model of indoctrination where altruistic advisors (such as, preachers or parents), after receiving signals from Nature, send messages to the participants in the conflict. In some cases, as a result of indoctrination, both individuals never doubt about the possibility of being wrong, although all available information suggests otherwise. In other cases, one of the two individuals is excessively reasonable: he believes that the opponent may be right even when all the evidence indicates beyond any doubt that the policy preferred by the opponent is suboptimal. The common feature in both cases is that information is distorted, although in different directions. The model has a rich set of predictions concerning the incidence and intensity of conflict, and the evolution of indoctrination strategies over time.

Keywords: Dogmatism, Skepticism, Ideology, Conflict, Information Transmission, Dogmatic Trap

JEL Classification: D74, D83

Suggested Citation

Riboni, Alessandro, Doubts and Dogmatism in Conflict Behavior (February 6, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Alessandro Riboni (Contact Author)

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris - Laboratoire d'Econometrie ( email )

1 rue Descartes
Paris, 75005

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