IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence


  • Brocas, Isabelle
  • Carrillo, Juan D
  • Palfrey, Thomas R


We consider a model where two adversaries can spend resources in acquiring public information about the unknown state of the world in order to influence the choice of a decision maker. We characterize the sampling strategies of the adversaries in the equilibrium of the game. We show that, as the cost of information acquisition for one adversary increases, that person collects less evidence whereas the other adversary collects more evidence. We then test the results in a controlled laboratory setting. The behavior of subjects is close to the theoretical predictions. Mistakes are relatively infrequent (15%). They occur in both directions, with more over-sampling (39%) than under-sampling (8%). The main difference with the theory is the smooth decline in sampling around the theoretical equilibrium. Comparative statics are also consistent with the theory, with adversaries sampling more when their own cost is low and when the other adversary's cost is high. Finally, there is little evidence of learning over the 40 matches of the experiment.

Suggested Citation

  • Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 2009. "Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7457, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7457

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yves Breitmoser & Jonathan Tan & Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Understanding perpetual R&D races," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 44(3), pages 445-467, September.
    2. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2009. "Multi-battle contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 256-274, May.
    3. Robert Forsythe & R. Mark Isaac & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1989. "Theories and Tests of "Blind Bidding" in Sealed-Bid Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 214-238, Summer.
    4. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2002. "Racing with uncertainty: a patent race experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 877-902, June.
    5. Emir Kamenica & Matthew Gentzkow, 2011. "Bayesian Persuasion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2590-2615, October.
    6. Jeffrey Banks & David Porter & Mark Olson, 1997. "An experimental analysis of the bandit problem," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 10(1), pages 55-77.
    7. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
    8. Steven Matthews & Andrew Postlewaite, 1985. "Quality Testing and Disclosure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(3), pages 328-340, Autumn.
    9. Christopher Harris & John Vickers, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21.
    10. Matthew Gentzkow & Emir Kamenica, 2011. "Competition in Persuasion," NBER Working Papers 17436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Gary Charness & Dan Levin, 2005. "When Optimal Choices Feel Wrong: A Laboratory Study of Bayesian Updating, Complexity, and Affect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1300-1309, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Simeon Schudy & Verena Utikal, 2015. "Does imperfect data privacy stop people from collecting personal health data?," TWI Research Paper Series 98, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    2. Raphael Boleslavsky & Bruce Carlin & Christopher Cotton, 2017. "Competing for Capital: Auditing and Credibility in Financial Reporting," Working Papers 1377, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    3. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2018. "Signaling with costly acquisition of signals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 141-150.
    4. Henry, Emeric & Ottaviani, Marco, 2017. "Research and the Approval Process: The Organization of Persuasion," CEPR Discussion Papers 11939, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:685-711 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:411-429 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew Gentzkow & Emir Kamenica, 2011. "Competition in Persuasion," NBER Working Papers 17436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Arnaud Dellis & Mandar Oak, 2016. "Overlobbying and Pareto-improving Agenda Constraint," School of Economics Working Papers 2016-05, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.

    More about this item


    adversarial system; experiment; information acquisition; search;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7457. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.