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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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  1. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Lilja, Jannie & Zetterqvist, Henrik, 2006. "Trust and truth," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 665, Stockholm School of Economics.
    • Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson & Jannie Lilja & Henrik Zetterqvist, 2009. "Trust and Truth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 252-276, 01.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  3. Robert J. Aumann & Sergiu Hart, 2003. "Long Cheap Talk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1619-1660, November.
    • Robert J. Aumann & Sergiu Hart, 2002. "Long Cheap Talk," Discussion Paper Series dp284, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, revised Nov 2002.
  4. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
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  6. 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.
  7. Croson, Rachel T. A., 2000. "Thinking like a game theorist: factors affecting the frequency of equilibrium play," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 299-314, March.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  11. Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-97, September.
  12. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  13. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  14. 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.
  15. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  16. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  17. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  18. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  19. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  21. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2006. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  22. López-Pérez, Raúl, 2008. "Aversion to norm-breaking: A model," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 237-267, September.
  23. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
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  25. repec:oup:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:4:p:1359-1395 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Self-Serving Cheap Talk: A Test Of Aumann's Conjecture," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 177-194, November.
  27. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
  28. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
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  31. Sanchez-Pages, Santiago & Vorsatz, Marc, 2007. "An experimental study of truth-telling in a sender-receiver game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 86-112, October.
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  33. Joseph Farrell, 1987. "Cheap Talk, Coordination, and Entry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 34-39, Spring.
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