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Hiding an Inconvenient Truth: Lies and Vagueness

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  • Serra Garcia, M.
  • Damme, E.E.C. van
  • Potters, J.J.M.

    (Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economics Center)

Abstract

When truth conflicts with e¢ ciency, 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, with the latter case giving rise to a prisoners' dilemma. Without verbal communication, efficiency is achieved, with contributions for high or intermediate values. When verbal com- munication is added, the leader has an incentive to hide the precise truth when the value is intermediate. We show experimentally that, when communication about the value 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, but not when it is high. Thus, she implicitly reveals all values. Inter- estingly, efficiency is still preserved, since the follower ignores messages altogether and does not seem to realize that vague messages hide inconvenient truths.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center in its series Discussion Paper with number 2010-029.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubtil:2010029

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Web page: https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/research/institutes-and-research-groups/center-ar/

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Keywords: Communication; Efficiency; Lying; Public Goods.;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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. Hoffmann, Mareike & Lauer, Thomas & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2013. "The royal lie," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 305-313.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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