Rules and Commitment in Communication: an Experimental Analysis
We investigate models of cheap talk, information disclosure, and Bayesian persuasion, in a unified experimental framework. Our umbrella design permits the analysis of models that share the same structure regarding preferences and information, but differ in two dimensions: the rules governing communication, which determine whether information is verifiable; and the sender’s commitment power, which determines the extent to which she can commit to her communication strategy. Commitment is predicted to have contrasting effects on information transmission, depending on whether information is verifiable. Our design exploits these variations to explicitly test for the role of rules and commitment in communication. Our experiments provide general support for the strategic rationale behind the role of commitment and, more specifically, for the Bayesian persuasion model. At the same time, we document significant quantitative deviations. Most notably, we find that rules matter in ways that are entirely unpredicted by the theory, suggesting a novel policy role for information verifiability.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26404