Cory Simpkins

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at Clemson University

"The Lovers' Dilemma: Two-sided Uncertainty in Coordination Games" (Job Market Paper)

This paper examines delegation and communication as strategies in coordination games with uncertainty and social preferences. I construct a model where other-regarding partners attempt to coordinate over a binary choice with privately known utilities. Players can choose to either communicate by signaling their preferences or delegate the choice entirely to their partner. I characterize equilibrium behavior under various assumptions on information transmission and coordination risk. If coordination is risky, there is a type of ``first mover advantage" where the first player to communicate her own-preference guarantees her ideal outcome when communication is honest revelation. When preference signals are cheap talk, players cannot credibly communicate own-preferences to solve the coordination problem, leading to equilibria where one player always delegates. When coordination is not risky, the game becomes one of pure information transmission where communication is inhibited by strong other-regarding preferences.

"Voting for Crooks: Theory and Laboratory Evidence" (with M. Makowsky and W. Orman) (in progress)

We develop a two-stage model of elections where agents characterized by heterogeneous competence and social preferences must elect a representative who will be entrusted with public resources that will grow in accordance with their competence, but who also have the option to take public resources for their own private gain. Voter decisions are informed by observable decisions made by candidates in preceding i) trust and ii) investment games which may reveal their respective trustworthiness and competence. We show that incentives for ``performative trustworthiness" result in voters conditionally weighting their decisions towards competence, but that costly virtue signaling makes it possible for voters to grant candidates a benefit of the doubt regarding their minimal feasible pro-social preferences. Further, the model predicts that equilibrium embezzlement of public resources will decrease with the ratio of representative compensation to taxed resources. (experimental results pending)