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Mediating Conflict in the Lab

EUI Economics Lecture

Add to calendar 2022-01-20 11:00 2022-01-20 12:15 Europe/Rome Mediating Conflict in the Lab Online Via Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


20 January 2022

11:00 - 12:15 CET



Via Zoom

In this lecture, Alessandra Casella (Columbia University) will present the paper "Mediating Conflict in the Lab."

Mechanism design teaches that a mediator can strictly improve the chances of peace between two opponents even when the mediator has no independent resources, no superior information, and no enforcement power. We test the theory in a lab experiment where two subjects negotiate how to share a resource. The subjects send cheap talk messages to one another (under direct communication) or to the mediator (under mediation), before expressing demands or receiving the mediator’s recommendations. The mediator is an algorithm that implements the theoretically optimal mechanism, commonly known. In line with the theory, messages to the mediator are more sincere. However, contrary to the theory, peaceful resolution is not more frequent. Multiple equilibria exist, and we show that the best (i.e. most peaceful) equilibrium is particularly vulnerable to small deviations from full truthfulness. Subjects’ deviations induce only small losses in their individual payoffs, and yet translate into significant increases in conflict.

Co-authors: Evan Friedman and Manuel Perez.


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