Fight or Flight: Endogenous Timing in Conflicts

Boris van Leeuwen, Theo Offerman, Jeroen van de Ven

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We study a dynamic game in which players compete for a prize. In a waiting
game with two-sided private information about strength levels, players choose
between fighting, fleeing, or waiting. Players earn a “deterrence value” on top
of the prize if their opponent escapes without a battle. We show that this value
is a key determinant of the type of equilibrium. For intermediate values, sorting
takes place with weaker and more loss averse players fleeing before others
fight. Time then helps to reduce battles. In an experiment, we find support for
the key theoretical predictions, and document suboptimal predatory fighting.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages55
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2018

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper



  • fight-or-flight
  • contest
  • sorting
  • loss aversion
  • theory
  • experiment

Cite this

van Leeuwen, B., Offerman, T., & van de Ven, J. (2018). Fight or Flight: Endogenous Timing in Conflicts. (CentER Discussion Paper; Vol. 2018-052). Tilburg: CentER, Center for Economic Research.