Can Words Get in the Way? The Effect of Deliberation in Collective Decision-Making

70 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2016 Last revised: 15 Jan 2018

See all articles by Matias Iaryczower

Matias Iaryczower

Princeton University

Xiaoxia Shi

University of Wisconsin - Madison; Yale University

Matthew Shum

California Institute of Technology

Date Written: June 7, 2015


We quantify the effect of pre-vote deliberation on the decisions of US appellate courts. We estimate a model of strategic voting with incomplete information in which judges communicate before casting their votes, and then compare the probability of mistakes in the court with deliberation with a counterfactual of no pre-vote communication. The model has multiple equilibria, and judges’ preferences and information parameters are only partially identified. We find that there is a range of parameters in the identified set in which deliberation can be beneficial. Specifically, deliberation lowers the incidence of incorrect decisions when judges tend to disagree ex ante or their private information is relatively imprecise; otherwise, it tends to reduce the effectiveness of the court.

Keywords: voting, courts, communication, partial identification

JEL Classification: D72, C35, D82

Suggested Citation

Iaryczower, Matias and Shi, Xiaoxia and Shum, Matthew, Can Words Get in the Way? The Effect of Deliberation in Collective Decision-Making (June 7, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Matias Iaryczower

Princeton University ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Xiaoxia Shi

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Yale University

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Matthew Shum (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

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