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

Management Science, Forthcoming

35 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2017 Last revised: 29 Jun 2018

Uyanga Turmunkh

University of Michigan - Erb Institute

Martijn J. van den Assem

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics

Dennie van Dolder

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics; Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) - University of Nottingham

Date Written: February 17, 2017

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.

Keywords: deception, lying aversion, game show, prisoner’s dilemma, communication, cooperation, cheap talk

JEL Classification: C72, C93, D83

Suggested Citation

Turmunkh, Uyanga and van den Assem, Martijn J. and van Dolder, Dennie, Malleable Lies: Communication and Cooperation in a High Stakes TV Game Show (February 17, 2017). Management Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2919331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2919331

Uyanga Turmunkh

University of Michigan - Erb Institute ( email )

440 Church St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Martijn J. Van den Assem (Contact Author)

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Dennie Van Dolder

VU Amsterdam - School of Business and Economics ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) - University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
United Kingdom

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