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Hiding an inconvenient truth: Lies and vagueness

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  • Serra-Garcia, Marta
  • van Damme, Eric
  • Potters, Jan

Abstract

When truth conflicts with efficiency, can verbal communication destroy efficiency? Or are lies or vagueness used to hide inconvenient truths? We consider a sequential 2-player public good game in which the leader has private information about the value of the public good. This value can be low, high, or intermediate, the latter case giving rise to a prisoners' dilemma. Without verbal communication, efficiency is achieved, with contributions for high or intermediate values. When verbal communication is added, the leader has an incentive to hide the precise truth when the value is intermediate. We show experimentally that, when communication must be precise, the leader frequently lies, preserving efficiency by exaggerating. When communication can be vague, the leader turns to vague messages when the value is intermediate. Thus, she implicitly reveals all values. Interestingly, efficiency is preserved, since the follower does not seem to realize that vague messages hide inconvenient truths.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 244-261

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:73:y:2011:i:1:p:244-261

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

Related research

Keywords: Communication Efficiency Lying Public goods;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Lightle, John P., 2013. "Harmful lie aversion and lie discovery in noisy expert advice games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 347-362.
  2. Agranov, Marina & Schotter, Andrew, 2013. "Language and government coordination: An experimental study of communication in the announcement game," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 26-39.
  3. Serra Garcia, M. & Damme, E.E.C. van & Potters, J.J.M., 2011. "Lying About What you Know or About What you do? (replaces TILEC DP 2010-016)," Discussion Paper 2011-055, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  4. Adrian de Groot Ruiz & Theo Offerman & Sander Onderstal, 2011. "An Experimental Study of Credible Deviations and ACDC," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-153/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Hoffmann, Mareike & Lauer, Thomas & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2013. "The royal lie," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 305-313.
  6. Serra Garcia, M. & Damme, E.E.C. van & Potters, J.J.M., 2011. "Lying About What you Know or About What you Do? (replaces CentER DP 2010-033)," Discussion Paper 2011-139, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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