Lying in Persuasion

56 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2021 Last revised: 13 Jan 2022

See all articles by Arturas Rozenas

Arturas Rozenas

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Zhaotian Luo

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: Jan 12, 2021

Abstract

We develop a model where the speaker obtains information about which they can lie to persuade the audience. The option to lie, when exercised on the equilibrium path, incentivizes the speaker to seek more persuasive information. However, the conditions under which this happens are surprisingly restrictive: the risk that the speaker’s lie will be exposed must be neither too small nor too large and the audience must be sufficiently inclined ex ante to do what the speaker is asking – lying is used to nudge, not to push. The option to lie impairs persuasion even when, and especially when, it is not exercised. It motivates the audience to be instrumentally skeptical and to disbelieve the speaker who is telling the truth. We apply the model to articulate the sources of news bias in partisan media and to assess the role of fact-checking in curtailing misinformation.

Suggested Citation

Rozenas, Arturas and Luo, Zhaotian, Lying in Persuasion (Jan 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3878448 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3878448

Arturas Rozenas (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4
New York, NY 10012
United States

Zhaotian Luo

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science ( email )

5825 S University Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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