Economic Theory

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 465–486

Persuasion as a contest

Open Access


We examine how the probability of persuading an audience depends on resources expended by contending parties as well as on other factors. We use a Bayesian approach whereby the audience makes inferences solely based on the evidence produced by the contestants. We find conditions that yield the well-known additive contest success function, including the logit function. We also find conditions that produce a generalized “difference” functional form. In all cases, there are three main determinants of audience choice: (i) the truth and other objective parameters of the environment; (ii) the biases of the audience, and (iii) the resources expended by the interested parties.


Rent-seeking Advertising Litigation Political campaigning Property rights 

JEL Classification

C70 D20 D70 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  2. 2.School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Faculty of Business and LawDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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