Signals, Screens, and Spin: The Use of Information and Misinformation to Reduce Violent Activism

48 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2002

See all articles by Tommy Stamland

Tommy Stamland

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Finance

Jason F. Shogren

University of Wyoming

Date Written: March 13, 2002

Abstract

This paper considers a model in which an activist or terrorist uses violence to signal commitment to a political agenda. We examine how this violent signaling may be countered and reduced by the use of information-gathering mechanisms. Signaling through violent activism does not necessarily fully reveal an activist's true intentions. A signal is only partially informative if an activist has several pieces of private information like the value he assigns to his political agenda, and the attitude he has toward taking extreme action. We look at a unified theoretical model in which several information-gathering mechanisms are used in succession: signaling, screening, and spin control. The signaling is only partially separating so a role exists for subsequent screening. This screening both adds information and removes incentives to use violent activism as a signal. Adding spin control to the highest, separating signal used in equilibrium further reduces the incentives to signal. We conclude by showing that spin control and screening may - perhaps surprisingly - be both used in succession after a high signal to reduce signaling incentives. It may be effective to both inform and misinform the public to reduce signaling through violent activism.

Keywords: Activism, Terrorism, Signaling, Screening, Spin Control

JEL Classification: C72, D74, D78, D82,

Suggested Citation

Stamland, Tommy and Shogren, Jason F., Signals, Screens, and Spin: The Use of Information and Misinformation to Reduce Violent Activism (March 13, 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=305922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.305922

Tommy Stamland (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Finance ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5045 Bergen
Norway
+47 55 95 93 08 (Phone)
+47 55 95 96 50 or 47 (Fax)

Jason F. Shogren

University of Wyoming ( email )

Department of Economics
BU292
Laramie, WY 82071-3985
United States
307-766-5430 (Phone)
307-766-5090 (Fax)

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