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This article examines the impact of the distribution of preferences on equilibrium behavior in conflicts modeled as all-pay auctions with identity-dependent externalities. Centrists and radicals are defined using a willingness-to-pay criterion that admits preferences more general than a simple ordering on the line. Extremism, characterized by a higher per capita expenditure by radicals than centrists, may persist and generate higher aggregate expenditure by radicals, even when they are relatively small in number. Our results demonstrate the importance of the institutions of conflict in determining the role of extremism and moderation in economic, political, and social environments.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Social Choice and Welfare, to be assigned to a future volume, in 2014 following peer review. The final publication is available at Springer via DOI: 10.1007/s00355-014-0864-1.

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