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Authors

  • Li Hao,

    1. University of British Columbia, Canada
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  • Wei Li

    1. University of British Columbia, Canada
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    • We thank Andreas Blume, Ettore Damiano, Maxim Ivanov, Marco Ottaviani, Marit Rehavi, Ariel Rubinstein, Edward Schlee, Wing Suen, and seminar participants at Peking University, Queen’s University, SFU, UBC, University of Calgary, UCR, UCSB, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Victoria for helpful suggestions. Wei Li is grateful for the support of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant #410-2010-1559. Please address correspondence to: Wei Li, Department of Economics, Buchanan Tower 1015, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1, Canada. E-mail: wei.li@ubc.ca.


  • Manuscript received October 2011; revised December 2011.

Abstract

A candidate for political office has private information about his and his rival’s qualifications. A more informative positive (negative) campaign generates a more accurate public signal about his own (his rival’s) qualifications, but costs more. A high type candidate has a comparative advantage in negative campaigns if, relative to the low type, he can lower the voter’s belief about his rival more effectively than he can raise her belief about himself and vice versa. In equilibrium, this comparative advantage determines whether the high type chooses a positive or negative campaign. Further, competition helps the high type separate.

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