Econometrica: Sep 2021, Volume 89, Issue 5

An Axiomatic Model of Persuasion

https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA16729
p. 2081-2116

Alexander M. Jakobsen

A sender ranks information structures knowing that a receiver processes the information before choosing an action affecting them both. The sender and receiver may differ in their utility functions and/or prior beliefs, yielding a model of dynamic inconsistency when they represent the same individual at two points in time. I take as primitive (i) a collection of preference orderings over all information structures, indexed by menus of acts (the sender's ex ante preferences for information), and (ii) a collection of correspondences over menus of acts, indexed by signals (the receiver's signal‐contingent choice(s) from menus). I provide axiomatic representation theorems characterizing the sender as a sophisticated planner and the receiver as a Bayesian information processor, and show that all parameters can be uniquely identified from the sender's preferences for information. I also establish a series of results characterizing common priors, common utility functions, and intuitive measures of disagreement for these parameters—all in terms of the sender's preferences for information.



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