Voting with endogenous information acquisition: Experimental evidence

Sourav Bhattacharya, John Duffy, SunTak Kim

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The Condorcet jury model with costless but informative signals about the true state of the world predicts that the efficiency of group decision-making increases unambiguously with the group size. However, if signal acquisition is made an endogenous and costly decision, then rational voters have disincentives to purchase information as the group size becomes larger. We investigate the extent to which human subjects recognize this trade-off between better information aggregation and greater incentives to free-ride in a laboratory experiment where we vary the group size, the cost of information acquisition and the precision of signals. We find that the theory predicts well in the case of precise signals. However, when signals are imprecise, free-riding incentives appear to be much weaker as there is a pronounced tendency for subjects to over-acquire information relative to equilibrium predictions. We rationalize the latter finding using a quantal response equilibrium that allows for risk aversion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316–338
Number of pages23
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Early online date17 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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