Communication, Influence, and Informational Asymmetries Among Voters
24 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2008
Informational asymmetries occur frequently and systematically within political communication networks, and this paper focuses on the implications for the quality of political judgments, as well as for political influence among citizens. Political information often comes at a cost to individual citizens, and this cost is likely to vary quite dramatically across individuals. As a consequence, some individuals become politically expert, while others demonstrate persistently low levels of political knowledge and awareness. Among those citizens for whom information is prohibitively costly, one attractive lower cost alternative is to rely upon the political advice of other individuals who are experts. A problem arises with respect to the utility of such expert opinion, particularly in situations where the respective preferences of the informant and recipient are divergent. Within this context, we employ an experimental platform to undertake an analysis of cost conscious, goal oriented subjects who must obtain information on political candidates to realize their goals. The experimental design provides an opportunity to address a range of questions. How important is individually purchased information to the subjects' assessments of the candidates? Is more information better than less information? How does the utility of this information compare to the utility of information obtained from other subjects? What are the criteria imposed by subjects in their search for other subjects who will be useful information providers?
JEL Classification: C90
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation