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Intentional Vagueness

  • Andreas Blume
  • Oliver Board

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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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 381.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision: May 2009
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:381
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  1. 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.
  2. 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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  4. 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.
  5. repec:dgr:kubtil:2008047 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Crawford, Vincent P., 2001. "Lying for Strategic Advantage: Rational and Boundedly Rational Misrepresentation of Intentions," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt6k65014s, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
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  8. David P. Myatt & Torun Dewan, 2007. "The Qualities of Leadership: Direction, Communication, and Obfuscation," Economics Series Working Papers 311, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  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. David Ettinger & Philippe Jehiel, 2010. "A Theory of Deception," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-20, February.
  11. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  12. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  13. 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.
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