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Intentional Vagueness

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  • Andreas Blume
  • Oliver Board

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 381.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision: May 2009
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:381

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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. Board, Oliver J. & Blume, Andreas & Kawamura, Kohei, 2007. "Noisy talk," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(4), December.
  3. Basu, Kaushik & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1991. "Strategy subsets closed under rational behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 141-146, June.
  4. 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.
  5. David Ettinger & Philippe Jehiel, 2010. "A Theory of Deception," Post-Print hal-00701286, HAL.
  6. Justin P. Johnson & David P. Myatt, 2006. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 756-784, June.
  7. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  8. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  9. Geraats, P.M., 2005. "The Mystique of Central Bank Speak," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0543, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  10. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Blume, Andreas, 2012. "A class of strategy-correlated equilibria in sender–receiver games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 510-517.
  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. Di Maggio, Marco, 2009. "Accountability and Cheap Talk," MPRA Paper 18652, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Hernández, Penélope & Urbano, Amparo & Vila, José E., 2012. "Pragmatic languages with universal grammars," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 738-752.
  5. Johanna Hertel & John Smith, 2013. "Not so cheap talk: costly and discrete communication," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 267-291, August.
  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. Penélope Hernández & Bernhard von Stengel, 2012. "Nash Codes for Noisy Channels," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0912, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.
  8. 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.

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