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Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Brocas, Isabelle and Carrillo, Juan D. and Palfrey, Thomas R. (2009) Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence. Social Science Working Paper, 1311. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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We consider a model where two adversaries can spend resources in acquiring public information about the unknown state of the world in order to influence the choice of a decision maker. We characterize the sampling strategies of the adversaries in the equilibrium of the game. We show that, as the cost of information acquisition for one adversary increases, that person collects less evidence whereas the other adversary collects more evidence. We then test the results in a controlled laboratory setting. The behavior of subjects is close to the theoretical predictions. Mistakes are relatively infrequent (15%). They occur in both directions, with more over-sampling (39%) than under-sampling (8%). The main difference with the theory is the smooth decline in sampling around the theoretical equilibrium. Comparative statics are also consistent with the theory, with adversaries sampling more when their own cost is low and when the other adversary’s cost is high. Finally, there is little evidence of learning over the 40 matches of the experiment.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Article
Palfrey, Thomas R.0000-0003-0769-8109
Additional Information:We thank M. Castro, S.H. Chew, G. Frechette, A. Gaduh, D. Houser, E. Kamenica, S. Singhal, and the audiences at the CIRANO Political Economy workshop in Montreal, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore, the North American meeting of the European Science Association and the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics for comments, Dustin Beckett for research assistance, and Chris Crabbe for developing the software. We also thank the financial support of the National Science Foundation (SES-0617820), The Social Science Experimental Laboratory at Caltech, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the LUSK Center, the Office of the Provost at the University of Southern California and the Microsoft Corporation. Published in Economic Theory, 51(3), 649-676.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Social Science Experimental LaboratoryUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Microsoft CorporationUNSPECIFIED
University of Southern CaliforniaUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:experimental design, search, information acquisition, adversarial system
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1311
Classification Code:JEL: C91, D83
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170726-170755087
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79470
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:07 Aug 2017 19:20
Last Modified:22 Nov 2019 09:58

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