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Intentional Vagueness

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  • Oliver Board
  • Andreas Blume

Abstract

This paper analyzes communication with a language that is vague in the sense that identical messages do not always result in identical interpretations. It is shown that strategic agents frequently add to this vagueness by being intentionally vague, i.e. they deliberately choose less precise messages than they have to among the ones available to them in equilibrium. Having to communicate with a vague language can be welfare enhancing because it mitigates conflict. In equilibria that satisfy a dynamic stability condition intentional vagueness increases with the degree of conflict between sender and receiver.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 365.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision: Aug 2008
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:365

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  1. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Torun Dewan & David P. Myatt, 2007. "The Qualities of Leadership:Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 24, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. Vincent P. Crawford, 2003. "Lying for Strategic Advantage: Rational and Boundedly Rational Misrepresentation of Intentions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 133-149, March.
  4. Basu, Kaushik & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1991. "Strategy subsets closed under rational behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 141-146, June.
  5. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  6. Board, Oliver J. & Blume, Andreas & Kawamura, Kohei, 2007. "Noisy talk," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(4), December.
  7. Serra Garcia, M. & Damme, E.E.C. van & Potters, J.J.M., 2008. "Truth or Efficiency? Communication in a Sequential Public Good Game," Discussion Paper 2008-047, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  8. David Ettinger & Philippe Jehiel, 2010. "A Theory of Deception," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-20, February.
  9. Petra M. Geraats, 2007. "The Mystique of Central Bank Speak," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(1), pages 37-80, March.
  10. Cheryl Boudreau & Arthur Lupia & Mathew D. McCubbins & Daniel B. Rodriguez, 2005. "The Judge as a Fly on the Wall: Interpretive Lessons from Positive Theories of Communication and Legislation," Law and Economics 0510001, EconWPA.
  11. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
  12. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  13. David P. Myatt & Justin P. Johnson, 2004. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," Economics Series Working Papers 185, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Penélope Hernández & Bernhard von Stengel, 2012. "Nash Codes for Noisy Channels," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0912, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.
  2. Hakenes, Hendrik & Schnabel, Isabel, 2013. "Regulatory Capture by Sophistication," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79991, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  3. Penelope Hernandez & Amparo Urbano Salvador & Jose E. Vila, 2010. "Pragmatic Languages with Universal Grammars," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0110, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.
  4. Di Maggio, Marco, 2009. "Accountability and Cheap Talk," MPRA Paper 18652, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Hertel, Johanna & Smith, John, 2010. "Not so cheap talk: Costly and discrete communication," MPRA Paper 23560, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. K.J.M. De Jaegher & R. van Rooij, 2011. "Game-theoretic pragmatics under conflicting and common interests," Working Papers 11-25, Utrecht School of Economics.
  7. Serra Garcia, M. & Damme, E.E.C. van & Potters, J.J.M., 2010. "Hiding an Inconvenient Truth: Lies and Vagueness," Discussion Paper 2010-029, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  8. Blume, Andreas, 2012. "A class of strategy-correlated equilibria in sender–receiver games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 510-517.

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