Idiosyncratic Information and Vague Communication

Idiosyncratic Information and Vague Communication

By Takakazu Honryo, Doshisha University and Makoto Yano, Kyoto University

This study explores why, at critical moments, governments may withhold vital information from the public. We explain this phenomenon by what we call idiosyncratic events, or events independent of the information receiver’s state-contingent payoff functions. Idiosyncratic events often influence the receiver’s belief on the sender’s performance. If such events are correlated with the events determining the payoff functions, the sender may withhold information so as to improve his image. This result may be applied to the manipulation of information regarding a number of recent real-world phenomena, including the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 and the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

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