Four Costly Signaling Mechanisms

Four Costly Signaling Mechanisms

By Kai Quek, University of Hong Kong

Two mechanisms of costly signaling are known in international relations: sinking costs and tying hands. I show that there exist four mechanisms of costly signaling that are equally general. I develop the new mechanisms of installment costs and reducible costs and contrast them with sunk costs and tied-hands costs. I then conduct experiments to test the four signaling mechanisms. I find that each mechanism can improve credibility when the costs are high, but reducible costs can improve credibility even when the costs are low.


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