Our experiment matches two subjects who take the role of either the sender or the receiver. Receivers know that there are two main stages of which only one will be randomly chosen for determining their bonus.
In stage 1 of the experiment, receivers are asked for their belief on whether the unemployment rate in a US state, and the crime rate in another US state, was lower during the Obama or the Trump administration. The two questions are presented in a random order. Participants know that, given that stage 1 is paid out, exactly one of the two questions will be randomly chosen to determine their payoff and that they will receive a bonus if and only if their answer to this question is correct. For each question, we also ask them how certain they are that their belief is correct.
In stage 2, receivers can revise their previous answers based on a message of a sender. For eliciting those messages, we randomly choose two out of four questions. For half of the questions, the correct answer is “Obama administration” and for the other half, the correct answer is “Trump administration”. We inform senders about the correct answer of their questions. For each question, they can then send one out of two possible messages, suggesting that the correct answer is “Obama administration” or “Trump administration”. Each of the two messages will then be sent to a different receiver. For determining the senders’ payoffs, one receiver will be chosen at random. Senders in treatment TRUMP (OBAMA) know that they will receive a bonus if and only if the receiver’s answer is “Trump” (“Obama”). We inform receivers that senders know the correct answers but do not need to report truthfully, as well as their incentives. After receivers observed the sender’s message, we again ask them whether they believe that “Obama administration” or “Trump administration” is the correct answer. Receivers know that, given that stage 2 is paid out, they will get a bonus if and only if their answer is correct.
To elicit the receivers’ responses to the senders’ messages, we use the strategy-method: For each of the two questions, receivers have to choose between “Obama administration” and “Trump administration” for each of the two possible messages of the sender. Payoffs are calculated based on the message the sender actually sent.
In the post-experimental questionnaire, we elicit basic demographic information and personal attitudes, such as their political affiliation.
Overall, we have two main treatments that differ in the senders’ incentives:
• In treatment OBAMA, the sender will get a bonus if and only if the receiver, after having received the message, announces that “Obama administration” is the correct answer.
• In treatment TRUMP, the sender will get a bonus if and only if the receiver, after having received the message, announces that “Trump administration” is the correct answer.
We also have an additional treatment, where the receivers are not incentivized for their answers in the first stage (treatment STAGE1_NI). For those participants, their bonus is always determined by their answers in stage 2. Like before (treatment STAGE1_I), they will receive a bonus if and only if their answer is correct.
We use a between-subject design. Each subject, hence, participates in only one treatment and plays only one role. The experiment will be conducted online and participants will be recruited using Prolific. We will require that participants are located in the US and that they show an approval rate of at least 95%. Participants who answered the majority of our comprehension questions incorrectly will not be allowed to continue, and will hence not be included our sample.