Malleable Lies: Communication and Cooperation in a High Stakes TV Game Show

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We investigate the credibility of non-binding pre-play statements about cooperative behavior, using data from a high-stakes TV game show in which contestants play a variant on the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma. We depart from the conventional binary approach of classifying statements as promises or not, and propose a more fine-grained two-by-two typology inspired by the idea that lying aversion leads defectors to prefer statements that are malleable to ex-post interpretation as truths. Our empirical analysis shows that statements that carry an element of conditionality or implicitness are associated with a lower likelihood of cooperation, and confirms that malleability is a good criterion for judging the credibility of cheap talk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4795-4812
JournalManagement Science
Volume65
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Credibility
Communication
Conditionality
Prisoners' dilemma
Cooperative behavior
Empirical analysis
Cheap talk

Cite this

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title = "Malleable Lies: Communication and Cooperation in a High Stakes TV Game Show",
abstract = "We investigate the credibility of non-binding pre-play statements about cooperative behavior, using data from a high-stakes TV game show in which contestants play a variant on the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma. We depart from the conventional binary approach of classifying statements as promises or not, and propose a more fine-grained two-by-two typology inspired by the idea that lying aversion leads defectors to prefer statements that are malleable to ex-post interpretation as truths. Our empirical analysis shows that statements that carry an element of conditionality or implicitness are associated with a lower likelihood of cooperation, and confirms that malleability is a good criterion for judging the credibility of cheap talk.",
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Malleable Lies: Communication and Cooperation in a High Stakes TV Game Show. / Turmunkh, Uyanga; van den Assem, Martijn J.; van Dolder, D.

In: Management Science, Vol. 65, No. 10, 2019, p. 4795-4812.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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