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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Essays on communication in signaling games
by Agranov, Marina, Ph.D., New York University, 2010, 293; 3408345
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation comprises three essays that are linked by their focus on the communication in the signaling games.

In Chapter 1, "Flip-flopping: contrasting effects of intense primaries and intense general elections on the selection of candidates", I develop an incomplete information model of two-stage electoral competition. This model captures two commonly observed patterns: (1) the “post-primary moderation effect,” in which candidates pander to the party base during the primary and shift to the center once the nomination is secured, and (2) the “divisive-primary effect,” which refers to the detrimental effect of intense primaries on a party's general-election prospects. I supplement theoretical analysis by testing model's predictions in the controlled laboratory experiment.

Chapter 2, "An Experimental Study of Ambiguity and Vagueness in the Announcement Game", studies the efficiency properties of natural language used as a communication device in Announcement Games and compare its performance to other more precise types of communication. The main finding is that, while theoretically one can not expect natural language (i.e. words) to outperform more precise forms of communication, empirically they do as well as long as the Announcer uses the minimally optimal number of words. Excessively large vocabularies, even when optimal, are efficiency decreasing.

Chapter 3, "Vagueness and Inequality: An Experimental Study", explores one reason for using a vague communication strategy when a precise one is available. In situations where payoff inequality is likely to interfere with coordination (as in the Battle of the Sexes Game), being vague about the game being played and its payoffs may help to mask this inequality. The results from the laboratory experiment show that vague words outperform precise communication strategy in the Announcement Game, which has the structure similar to the Battle of the Sexes Game.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schotter, Andrew
Commitee: Caplin, Andrew, Lizzeri, Alessandro
School: New York University
Department: Economics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics
Keywords: Signaling games
Publication Number: 3408345
ISBN: 978-1-124-04440-8
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