Communication has become even more central to societies through the diffusion of online and social media. In this working package, we analyze communication from several different angles.

First, the analysis of strategic communication and persuasion has produced strong results on the equilibrium value of communication. Experiments, on the other hand, reliably show that moderate amounts of information are transmitted between human agents, suggesting that participants in such experiments are reluctant to lie as senders and are credulous as receivers. Our research expands on this latter aspect: are human communicators able to judge the economic value of communication? Can they differentiate between valuable communication opportunities and less valuable ones?

Second, we consider how communication of information affects individual behavior and focus on media bias. It is documented that particular events (disasters) receive more reporting than others, thus shaping the perception of needs and necessity to provide disaster relief. Given that information and framing affect individual decisions, this media bias affects the willingness of governments and the public to provide relief. This working package aims at understanding and quantifying these issues.

Finally, we study how the design of social media platforms facilitates or hinders user behavior relevant to public affairs. Specifically, critics emphasize the internet’s potential to damage democracy by facilitating exposure to like-minded views, encouraging incivility, and decreasing satisfaction. This project explores how netizens experience social media and how experiences matter for user behavior.