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The Power of Words: Why Communication fosters Cooperation and Efficiency

  • López-Pérez, Raúl

    ()

    (Departamento de Análisis Económico (Teoría e Historia Económica). Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.)

We present a game-theoretical model that accounts for abundant experimental evidence from games with non-binding communication (‘cheap talk’). It is based on two key ideas: People are conditionally averse to break norms of honesty and fairness (i.e., the emotional cost of breaking a norm is low if few people comply), and heterogeneous with regard to their concern for norms. The model explains (a) why cooperation in social dilemmas rises if players can previously announce their intended play, (b) why details of the communication protocol like the number of message senders and the order in which players communicate affect cooperation, (c) why players in sender-receiver games tend to transmit more information than a standard analysis would predict, and (d) why senders of false messages are often sanctioned if punishment is available.

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Paper provided by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History) in its series Working Papers in Economic Theory with number 2009/01.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uam:wpaper:200901
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  25. Duffy, John & Feltovich, Nick, 2002. "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words? An Experimental Comparison of Observation and Cheap Talk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-27, April.
  26. Brandts, Jordi & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Cooperation and noise in public goods experiments: applying the contribution function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 399-427, February.
  27. Cai, Hongbin & Wang, Joseph Tao-Yi, 2006. "Overcommunication in strategic information transmission games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 7-36, July.
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