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Hiding an Inconvenient Truth : Lies and Vagueness

Author

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  • Serra Garcia, M.

    (Tilburg University, TILEC)

  • van Damme, E.E.C.

    (Tilburg University, TILEC)

  • Potters, J.J.M.

    (Tilburg University, TILEC)

Abstract

When truth conflicts with e¢ ciency, can verbal communication destroy efficiency? Or are lies or vagueness used to hide inconvenient truths? We consider a sequential 2-player public good game in which the leader has private information about the value of the public good. This value can be low, high, or intermediate, with the latter case giving rise to a prisoners' dilemma. Without verbal communication, efficiency is achieved, with contributions for high or intermediate values. When verbal com- munication is added, the leader has an incentive to hide the precise truth when the value is intermediate. We show experimentally that, when communication about the value must be precise, the leader frequently lies, preserving efficiency by exaggerating. When communication can be vague, the leader turns to vague messages when the value is intermediate, but not when it is high. Thus, she implicitly reveals all values. Inter- estingly, efficiency is still preserved, since the follower ignores messages altogether and does not seem to realize that vague messages hide inconvenient truths.

Suggested Citation

  • Serra Garcia, M. & van Damme, E.E.C. & Potters, J.J.M., 2010. "Hiding an Inconvenient Truth : Lies and Vagueness," Discussion Paper 2010-029, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiutil:4b2421f3-f39c-4012-afef-d2c323fee7cd
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob Goeree & Jingjing Zhang, 2014. "Communication & competition," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(3), pages 421-438, September.
    2. Sarah Mörtenhuber & Andreas Nicklisch & Kai-Uwe Schnapp, 2016. "What Goes Around, Comes Around: Experimental Evidence on Exposed Lies," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-14, October.
    3. Buyukboyaci, Muruvvet & Kucuksenel, Serkan, 2016. "Coordination and Cheap Talk: Indirect versus Direct Messages," MPRA Paper 68964, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo & Collin Raymond, 2016. "Preferences for Truth-Telling," CESifo Working Paper Series 6087, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Caleb A. Cox & Brock Stoddard, 2018. "Common-Value Public Goods and Informational Social Dilemmas," Working Papers 18-04, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    6. Natalia Borzino & Enrique Fatas & Emmanuel Peterle, 2015. "In Gov we trust: Voluntary compliance in networked investment games," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 15-21, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    7. Armenak Antinyan & Luca Corazzini & Elena D'Agostino & Filippo Pavesi, 2017. "Watch your Words: an Experimental Study on Communication and the Opportunity Cost of Delegation," Working Papers 18/2017, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    8. Lohse, Tim & Dwenger, Nadja, 2016. "Do Individuals Put Effort into Lying? Evidence From a Compliance Experiment," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145616, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Silvia Dominguez Martinez & Randolph Sloof, 2016. "Communication versus (Restricted) Delegation: An Experimental Comparison," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-050/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    10. Jones, Daniel B., 2017. "Too much information? An experiment on communication and cooperation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 29-39.
    11. Khalmetski, Kiryl & Rockenbach, Bettina & Werner, Peter, 2017. "Evasive lying in strategic communication," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 59-72.
    12. Hoffmann, Mareike & Lauer, Thomas & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2013. "The royal lie," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 305-313.
    13. Serra Garcia, M. & van Damme, E.E.C. & Potters, J.J.M., 2011. "Lying About What you Know or About What you Do? (replaces CentER DP 2010-033)," Discussion Paper 2011-139, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    14. Agranov, Marina & Schotter, Andrew, 2013. "Language and government coordination: An experimental study of communication in the announcement game," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 26-39.
    15. Olivier Body & Régine Kolinsky, 2014. "To Win or Not to Lose: an Experiment on Communication Efforts," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-17, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    16. Ginger Zhe Jin & Michael Luca & Daniel Martin, 2015. "Is No News (Perceived as) Bad News? An Experimental Investigation of Information Disclosure," NBER Working Papers 21099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Serra Garcia, M. & van Damme, E.E.C. & Potters, J.J.M., 2010. "Which Words Bond? An Experiment on Signaling in a Public Good Game (replaced by TILEC DP 2011-055)," Discussion Paper 2010-016, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    18. Serra Garcia, M. & van Damme, E.E.C. & Potters, J.J.M., 2011. "Lying About What you Know or About What you do? (replaces TILEC DP 2010-016)," Discussion Paper 2011-055, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Communication; Efficiency; Lying; Public Goods.;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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