Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence

38 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2009

See all articles by Isabelle Brocas

Isabelle Brocas

University of Southern California - Department of Economics

Juan D. Carrillo

University of Southern California - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Date Written: September 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: adversarial system, experiment, information acquisition, search

JEL Classification: C91, D83

Suggested Citation

Brocas, Isabelle and Carrillo, Juan D. and Palfrey, Thomas R., Information Gatekeepers: Theory and Experimental Evidence (September 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7457, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1484490

Isabelle Brocas

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3022 S. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-8842 (Phone)
213-740-8543 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~brocas/

Juan D. Carrillo (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3022 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-3526 (Phone)
213-740-8543 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
301A Baxter Hall
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
626-395-4088 (Phone)
626-4432-1726 (Fax)

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