Are Costly Signals More Credible? Evidence of Sender-Receiver Gaps

  title={Are Costly Signals More Credible? Evidence of Sender-Receiver Gaps},
  author={Kai Quek},
  journal={The Journal of Politics},
  pages={925 - 940}
  • Kai Quek
  • Published 17 April 2013
  • Economics
  • The Journal of Politics
The idea that costly signals are more credible is a long-standing hypothesis in international politics. However, little is known on how costly signaling actually works. Causal evidence is elusive because the effect of a costly signal is almost always confounded with the effects of other previous or simultaneous information. I design three controlled experiments to study how the logic of sinking costs operates. I find that signalers randomly assigned with high resolve are more likely to sink… 
Tying Hands, Sinking Costs, and Leader Attributes
Do costly signals work? Despite their widespread popularity, both hands-tying and sunk-cost signaling have come under criticism, and there’s little direct evidence that leaders understand costly
Quick on the Draw: American Negativity Bias and Costly Signals in International Relations
  • S. Kim
  • Economics
    Journal of Conflict Resolution
  • 2021
States signal their intentions to domestic and foreign audiences but are not always believed. Why do people believe some state signals but not others? Using a survey experiment on a representative
Four Costly Signaling Mechanisms
  • Kai Quek
  • Economics
    American Political Science Review
  • 2021
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
Revisiting the Problem of Credibility in the Age of Post-Truth
This essay raises the question whether citizens in the digital age can learn from how credibility is treated in international negotiations. Negotiators face problems both in attempting to send
Signaling under the Security Dilemma: An Experimental Analysis
One of the most intractable debates in IR revolves around the severity and frequency of the security dilemma. Offensive realists argue that states are compelled to make worst-case assumptions about
S0020818319000328jra 1..24
Canonical models of costly signaling in international relations (IR) tend to assume costly signals speak for themselves: a signal’s costliness is typically understood to be a function of the signal,
The Credibility of Public and Private Signals: A Document-Based Approach
Crisis bargaining literature has predominantly used formal and qualitative methods to debate the relative efficacy of actions, public words, and private words. These approaches have overlooked the
How Do Observers Assess Resolve?
ABSTRACT Despite a plethora of theoretical frameworks, IR scholars have struggled with the question of how observers assess resolve. We make two important contributions in this direction.
Type II Audience Costs
  • Kai Quek
  • Political Science
    The Journal of Politics
  • 2017
Traditional audience costs are the political losses a leader incurs for backing down after threatening to fight (type I). Type II audience costs are the losses incurred for entering a conflict after
The Role of Mandatory Evacuations as Costly Signals during Interstate Disputes
Abstract International Relations (IR) scholars, particularly those working in the rationalist tradition, argue that costly signalling is one of the main tools that policymakers have to resolve


Can Cheap Talk Deter ? An Experimental Analysis
What effect does cheap talk have on behavior in an entry-deterrence game? We shed light on this question using incentivized laboratory experiments of the strategic interaction between defenders and
Can Cheap Talk Deter?
What effect does cheap talk have on behavior in an entry-deterrence game? We shed light on this question using incentivized laboratory experiments of the strategic interaction between defenders and
Signaling Alliance Commitments: Hand-Tying and Sunk Costs in Extended Nuclear Deterrence
How can states signal their alliance commitments? Although scholars have developed sophisticated theoretical models of costly signaling in international relations, we know little about which specific
Capabilities, Uncertainty, and Resolve: A Limited Information Model of Crisis Bargaining
This paper presents and solves a crisis bargaining game under limited information. The sides alternate offers from three possible offers, with war and its costs starting if the target's counteroffer
Military Coercion in Interstate Crises
Military mobilization simultaneously sinks costs, because it must be paid for regardless of the outcome, and ties hands, because it increases the probability of winning should war occur. Existing
Sources of Bias in Retrospective Decision Making: Experimental Evidence on Voters’ Limitations in Controlling Incumbents
Are citizens competent to assess the performance of incumbent politicians? Observational studies cast doubt on voter competence by documenting several biases in retrospective assessments of
An Experimental Test of Equilibrium Dominance in Signaling Games
Many economic situations with asymmetric information can be modeled as signaling games. Even simple signaling games can have sequential equilibria that are considered "unintuitive." For example, in a
Comparative statics of a signaling game: An experimental study
In this paper a simple and basic signaling game is studied in an experimental environment. First, we check whether we can replicate some of the findings in the literature concerning equilibrium
Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes
  • J. Fearon
  • Political Science, Economics
    American Political Science Review
  • 1994
International crises are modeled as a political “war of attrition” in which state leaders choose at each moment whether to attack, back down, or escalate. A leader who backs down suffers audience
Alliances: Why Write Them Down?
States formalize some relations into military alliances. A formal commitment could increase credibility by signaling an intention to come to the aid of another state or by creating commitment by