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Intentional Vagueness

  • Oliver Board
  • Andreas Blume

This paper analyzes communication with a language that is vague in the sense that identical messages do not always result in identical interpretations. It is shown that strategic agents frequently add to this vagueness by being intentionally vague, i.e. they deliberately choose less precise messages than they have to among the ones available to them in equilibrium. Having to communicate with a vague language can be welfare enhancing because it mitigates conflict. In equilibria that satisfy a dynamic stability condition intentional vagueness increases with the degree of conflict between sender and receiver.

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File URL: http://www.pitt.edu/~ojboard/papers/vagueness.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 365.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision: Aug 2008
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:365
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  1. Cheryl Boudreau & Arthur Lupia & Mathew D. McCubbins & Daniel B. Rodriguez, 2005. "The Judge as a Fly on the Wall: Interpretive Lessons from Positive Theories of Communication and Legislation," Law and Economics 0510001, EconWPA.
  2. Vincent P. Crawford, 2003. "Lying for Strategic Advantage: Rational and Boundedly Rational Misrepresentation of Intentions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 133-149, March.
  3. Petra M. Geraats, 2006. "The Mystique of Central Bank Speak," Working Papers 123, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  4. Basu, K. & Weibull, J., 1990. "Strategy Subsets Closed Under Rational Behavior," Papers 62, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  5. Jehiel, Philippe & Ettinger, David, 2010. "A theory of deception," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/5434, Paris Dauphine University.
  6. Justin P. Johnson & David P. Myatt, 2006. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 756-784, June.
  7. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  8. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  9. Board, Oliver J. & Blume, Andreas & Kawamura, Kohei, 2007. "Noisy talk," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(4), December.
  10. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 910-45, December.
  11. Torun Dewan & David P. Myatt, 2007. "The Qualities of Leadership:Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 24, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  12. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
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