On the propensity to settle or litigate in laboratory disputes

Margherita Saraceno (Università degli Studi di Pavia)
Matteo Migheli (University of Torino)


This study experimentally investigates the role of the origin of the resources of victims in the propensity to settle or litigate in laboratory disputes. The analysis focuses on victims’ decision to use a costly and uncertain procedure, that is, litigation, to recover money from offenders and on offenders’ decision to settle and hand over the resources taken before litigation starts. Results suggest that although the share of offenders who return money increases once they learn that the victims have had to work to gain their resources, the threat of a costly dispute is stronger than any consideration about the origin of victims’ resources. In this study, the religiosity and gender of decision makers are included among the control variables because these individual features are traditionally debated as able to affect individuals’ attitude in conflicts and their resolutions. In particular, gender seems to play a significant role since main results are driven by female decision makers.

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