Brad LeVeck: The Democratic Peace and the Wisdom of Crowds

December 8, 2015


MIT Media Lab, E14-240


The finding that there are few, if any, cases of war between democratic states has generated a great deal of interest. Brad LeVeck will discuss a paper that proposes a new theory for the democratic peace that highlights a previously unexplored advantage that democracies have in crisis bargaining. We argue that because democracies typically include a larger number of decision-makers in the foreign policy process, they will produce fewer decision-making errors in situations of ultimatum bargaining. As a result, we expect that bargaining among larger groups of diverse decision-makers will fail less often. In order to test our hypothesis, we use experimental data where subjects engage in ultimatum bargaining games. We compare the performance of both individuals and small groups to larger groups of decision-makers. We find strong support for the idea that collective decision-making among larger groups of decision-makers decreases the likelihood of bargaining failure.


Brad LeVeck is an assistant professor at the University of California, Merced. His research uses experiments and mathematical models to study learning and strategic decision-making in politics. This includes studying how activists learn to coordinate their policy positions, and how elite diplomats learn to bargain with one another. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, International Organization, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Host/Chair: Iyad Rahwan

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