Third-party manipulation of conflict: an experiment
We design a laboratory experiment in which an interested third party endowed with private information sends a public message to two conflicting players, who then make their choices. We find that third-party communication is not strategic. Nevertheless, a hawkish message by a third party makes hawkish behavior more likely while a dovish message makes it less likely. Moreover, how subjects respond to the message is largely unaffected by the third party’s incentives. We argue that our results are consistent with a focal point interpretation in the spirit of Schelling.