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An Instrumental Theory of Political Correctness

  • Stephen Morris

An informed advisor wishes to convey her valuable information to an uninformed decision maker with identical preferences. Thus she has a current incentive to truthfully reveal her information. But if the decision maker thinks the advisor might be biased in favor of one decision, and the advisor does not wish to be thought to be biased, the advisor has a reputational incentive to lie. I show that if the advisor is sufficiently concerned about her reputation, no information is conveyed in equilibrium. I also show that in a repeated version of this game, the advisor will care (instrumentally) about her reputation simply because she wants her valuable and unbiased advice to have an impact on future decisions.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1209.

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Date of creation: Feb 1998
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1209
Contact details of provider: Postal: Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science, Northwestern University, 580 Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2014
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Web page: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/
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  1. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Ricart i Costa, Joan, 1986. "Managerial Incentives and Capital Management," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 835-60, November.
  3. Scharfstein, David S & Stein, Jeremy C, 1990. "Herd Behavior and Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 465-79, June.
  4. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1989. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, And Credibility," Working papers 513, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  6. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey S., 2000. "Cheap Talk and Burned Money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 1-16, March.
  7. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2001. "A Model Of Expertise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 747-775, May.
  8. Abhijit Banerjee & Rohini Somanathan, 2001. "A Simple Model Of Voice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 189-227, February.
  9. David Spector, 2000. "Rational Debate And One-Dimensional Conflict," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 181-200, February.
  10. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "A Theory of "Yes Men."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 757-70, September.
  11. Sobel, Joel, 1985. "A Theory of Credibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 557-73, October.
  12. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 1996. "Impetuous Youngsters and Jaded Old-Timers: Acquiring a Reputation for Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1105-34, December.
  13. Austen-Smith David, 1993. "Interested Experts and Policy Advice: Multiple Referrals under Open Rule," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 3-43, January.
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