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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

Competitive Capture of Public Opinion.

Tuesday 23 January 2024 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.

About this event

We propose a general equilibrium model where two special interest groups (SIGs) compete to influence public opinion. Citizens with heterogeneous priors over a binary state of the world receive reports drawn from a continuous message space by a variety of sources. The two opposite SIGs attempt to push their own agenda (one SIG to persuade citizens towards one state of the world, the other towards the alternative state of the world) by capturing the messages these sources convey. We characterize the equilibrium level of capture of each source by competing SIGs as well as the equilibrium level of information transmission. We show that capture increases the prevalence of the ex ante most informative messages. As a consequence, rational citizens discount such informative reports. Opposite capturing efforts do not cancel each other and result in a loss of social learning. We show that efforts to capture an information source are strategic substitutes: citizens’ skepticism of messages favoring the view of the SIG that is expected to capture that source dampen the incentives of the opposite SIG. Strategic substitution exacerbates horizontal differentiation so the information landscape becomes more polarized. We finally show that increased demand for information when SIGs want to fire up the base can exacerbate differentiation, increase capture, and reduce information transmission in equilibrium.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room SAL 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Mathilde Emeriau

Contact to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.

For further information please contact Maddie Giles: