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Signaling with Costly Acquisition of Signals

  • Ennio Bilancini


  • Leonardo Boncinelli


In this paper we identify a novel reason why signaling may fail to separate types, which is specific to cases where the receiver has to incur a cost to acquire the signal sent by the sender. If the receiver chooses not to incur the acquisition cost, then all sender's types find it optimal to pool on the least costly signal; also, if all sender's types pool on the least costly signal, then the receiver finds it optimal not to incur the acquisition cost. This kind of coordination failure makes the resulting pooling equilibrium extremely robust, even when costs of signal acquisition are very small. Also, pooling is shown to be robust to all refinements based on out-of-equilibrium beliefs, even when the sender can engage in further signaling that can act as an "invitation" to acquire the main signal, and when acquisition costs are smooth and depend on the receiver's effort to acquire the signal. These results provide a new source of interest in pooling equilibria.

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Paper provided by University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi" in its series Center for Economic Research (RECent) with number 100.

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Length: pages 30
Date of creation: Jun 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mod:recent:100
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  1. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
  2. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli, 2014. "Persuasion with Reference Cues and Elaboration Costs," Working Papers - Economics wp2014_04.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  3. Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Optimal Auctions with Information Acquisition," Working Papers tecipa-302, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:102:y:1987:i:2:p:179-221 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2014. "Revealed Preference, Rational Inattention, and Costly Information Acquisition," NBER Working Papers 19876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y:2011:i:4:p:1400-1425 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. E. Kohlberg & J.-F. Mertens, 1998. "On the Strategic Stability of Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 445, David K. Levine.
  8. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
  9. Mailath George J. & Okuno-Fujiwara Masahiro & Postlewaite Andrew, 1993. "Belief-Based Refinements in Signalling Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 241-276, August.
  10. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  11. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
  12. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:87:y:1973:i:3:p:355-74 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
  14. Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Modes of communication," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9631, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli, 2014. "Small Noise in Signaling Selects Pooling on Minimum Signal," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 101, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  16. John G. Riley, 2001. "Silver Signals: Twenty-Five Years of Screening and Signaling," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 432-478, June.
  17. Grossman, Sanford J. & Perry, Motty, 1986. "Perfect sequential equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 97-119, June.
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