Jeliazkov and Poirier (2008) analyze the daily incidence of violence during the Second Intifada in a statistical way using an analytical Bayesian implementation of a second-order discrete Markov process. We tackle the same data and modeling problem from our perspective as cognitive scientists. First, we propose a psychological model of violence, based on a latent psychological construct we call “build up” that controls the retaliatory and repetitive violent behavior by both sides in the conflict. Build up is based on a social memory of recent violence and generates the probability and intensity of current violence. Our psychological model is implemented as a generative probabilistic graphical model, which allows for fully Bayesian inference using computational methods. We show that our model is both descriptively adequate, based on posterior predictive checks, and has good predictive performance. We then present a series of results that show how inferences based on the model can provide insight into the nature of the conflict. These inferences consider the base rates of violence in different periods of the Second Intifada, the nature of the social memory for recent violence, and the way repetitive versus retaliatory violent behavior affects each side in the conflict. Finally, we discuss possible extensions of our model and draw conclusions about the potential theoretical and methodological advantages of treating societal conflict as a cognitive modeling problem.
There is a project page associated with this chapter on the Open Science Framework https://osf.io/rvt4q/. The project pages contains code, data, and other supplementary results and information. We thank Ivan Jeliazkov for helpful discussions.
Mistry, P.K. and Lee, M.D. (2019), "Violence in the Second Intifada: A Demonstration of Bayesian Generative Cognitive Modeling", Topics in Identification, Limited Dependent Variables, Partial Observability, Experimentation, and Flexible Modeling: Part A (Advances in Econometrics, Vol. 40A), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 65-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0731-90532019000040A005
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