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Pandering to Persuade


  • Yeon-Koo Che
  • Wouter Dessein
  • Navin Kartik


An agent advises a principal on selecting one of multiple projects or an outside option. The agent is privately informed about the projects' benefits and shares the principal's preferences except for not internalizing her value from the outside option. We show that for moderate outside option values, strategic communication is characterized by pandering: the agent biases his recommendation toward "conditionally better-looking" projects, even when both parties would be better off with some other project. A project that has lower expected value can be conditionally better-looking. We develop comparative statics and implications of pandering. Pandering is also induced by an optimal mechanism without transfers. (JEL D23, D82)

Suggested Citation

  • Yeon-Koo Che & Wouter Dessein & Navin Kartik, 2013. "Pandering to Persuade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 47-79, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:1:p:47-79 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.1.47

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kovác, Eugen & Mylovanov, Tymofiy, 2009. "Stochastic mechanisms in settings without monetary transfers: The regular case," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(4), pages 1373-1395, July.
    2. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, 2005. "Log-concave probability and its applications," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(2), pages 445-469, August.
    3. Heidhues, Paul & Lagerlof, Johan, 2003. "Hiding information in electoral competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 48-74, January.
    4. Jordi Blanes I Vidal & Marc Möller, 2007. "When Should Leaders Share Information with Their Subordinates?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 251-283, June.
    5. Adam Brandenburger & Ben Polak, 1996. "When Managers Cover Their Posteriors: Making the Decisions the Market Wants to See," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 523-541, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Hoffmann & Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2013. "Hypertargeting, Limited Attention, and Privacy: Implications for Marketing and Campaigning," Working Papers 479, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Hafalir, Isa & Miralles, Antonio, 2015. "Welfare-maximizing assignment of agents to hierarchical positions," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 253-270.
    3. Kim, Jin Yeub & Kwon, Heung Jin, 2014. "The strategy of manipulating joint decision-making," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 127-130.
    4. Yeon‐Koo Che & Jinwoo Kim & Konrad Mierendorff, 2013. "Generalized Reduced‐Form Auctions: A Network‐Flow Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(6), pages 2487-2520, November.
    5. Justine S. Hastings & Brigitte C. Madrian & William L. Skimmyhorn, 2013. "Financial Literacy, Financial Education, and Economic Outcomes," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 347-373, May.
    6. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2016. "Special interests and the media: Theory and an application to climate change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 91-108.
    7. Li, Zhuozheng & Rantakari, Heikki & Yang, Huanxing, 2016. "Competitive cheap talk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 65-89.
    8. Franck Bien & Thomas Lanzi, 2017. "Contracting for information: on the effects of the principal's outside option," Working Papers hal-01491912, HAL.
    9. Chiba, Saori & Leong, Kaiwen, 2015. "An example of conflicts of interest as pandering disincentives," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 20-23.
    10. Rantakari, Heikki, 2014. "A simple model of project selection with strategic communication and uncertain motives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 14-42.
    11. Schmidbauer, Eric, 2017. "Multi-period competitive cheap talk with highly biased experts," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 240-254.
    12. Faravelli, Marco & Man, Priscilla & Walsh, Randall, 2015. "Mandate and paternalism: A theory of large elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 1-23.
    13. Eric Schmidbauer, 2016. "Multi-period competitive cheap talk with very biased experts," Working Papers 2016-04, University of Central Florida, Department of Economics.
    14. Wonsuk Chung & Rick Harbaugh, 2012. "Biased Recommendations," Working Papers 2012-02, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    15. Gangopadhyay, Partha, 2014. "Dynamics of mergers, bifurcation and chaos: A new framework," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 403(C), pages 293-307.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design


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