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The value of lies in a power-to-take game with imperfect information




Humans can lie strategically in order to leverage on their negotiation power. For instance, governments can claim that a "scapegoat" third party is responsible for reforms that impose higher costs on citizens, in order to make the pill sweeter. This paper analyzes such communication strategy within a variant of the ultimatum game. The first player gets an endowment, and the second player can impose a tax on it. The former can reject the allocation submitted by the tax-setter. A third party is then allowed to levy its own tax, and its intake is private information to the tax-setter. In a frameless experiment, 65% of the subjects in the tax-setter role overstate the tax levied by the third party in order to manipulate taxpayer’s expectations and submit less advantageous offers; on average, for every additional currency unit of lie, measured by the gap between the claimed and the actual tax, they would reduce their offer by 0.43 currency units.

Suggested Citation

  • Besancenot, Damien & Dubart, Delphine & Vranceanu, Radu, 2012. "The value of lies in a power-to-take game with imperfect information," ESSEC Working Papers WP1205, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-12005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Besancenot, Damien & Dubart, Delphine & Vranceanu, Radu, 2013. "The value of lies in an ultimatum game with imperfect information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 239-247.
    2. van Winden, Frans, 2015. "Political economy with affect: On the role of emotions and relationships in political economics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 298-311.

    More about this item


    Ultimatum game; Taxation; Lies; Deception; Asymmetric information;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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