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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. Basu, K. & Weibull, J.W., 1990. "Strategy Subsets Closed Under Rational Behaviour," Papers 479, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
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  7. Blinder, Alan S. & Ehrmann, Michael & de Haan, Jakob & Fratzscher, Marcel & Jansen, David-Jan, 2008. "Central Bank communication and monetary policy: a survey of theory and evidence," Working Paper Series 0898, European Central Bank.
  8. Andreas Blume & Oliver Board & Kohei Kawamura, 2007. "Noisy Talk," ESE Discussion Papers 167, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  9. David P. Myatt & Justin P. Johnson, 2004. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," Economics Series Working Papers 185, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. Petra M. Geraats, 2007. "The Mystique of Central Bank Speak," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(1), pages 37-80, March.
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  13. David Ettinger & Philippe Jehiel, 2010. "A Theory of Deception," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-20, February.
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