Make-up and suspicion in bargaining with cheap talk: An experiment controlling for gender and gender constellation


This paper explores gender differences in “make-up” and “suspicion” in a bargaining game in which the privately informed seller of a company sends a value message to the uninformed potential buyer who then proposes a price for the company. “Make-up” is measured by how much the true value is overstated, “suspicion” by how much the price offer differs from the value message. We run different computerized treatments varying in information about the gender (constellation) and in embeddedness of gender information. The asymmetry of the game and of information allows for a robust assessment of gender (constellation) effects. We report here the results from just one shot round decision since we expect such effects to be more pronounced for inexperienced participants. We mainly find an effect of gender constellation: when female sellers are aware to confront a female buyer, they overstate more, i.e. there is more “make-up”. However, we cannot confirm gender (constellation) effects for suspicion.

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  1. 1.

    The “Acquiring-a-Company” game is often used as a simple environment to analyze the “winner’s curse” (Kagel 1995; Thaler 1988). In a companion paper, we provide an analysis of this effect by using the data from repeated rounds (see Cagno et al. 2015).

  2. 2.

    This step of the decision process resembles an ultimatum game. Therefore, our findings can be compared to the results of gender differences in that framework.

  3. 3.

    After reading the instructions (available from the authors upon request), participants had to answer a few control questions before the experiment started.

  4. 4.

    What this neglets is a direct effect of the parameter \(q\) and the value \(v\), which together determine the surplus from trade, as well as of \(\widehat{v} \). We also checked the direct effect of \(q\) and \(v\) and the results do not change.

  5. 5.

    This result is quite in contrast to the finding of García-Gallego et al. (2012) in a field experiment.

  6. 6.

    According to our data, risk attitude does not affect the results.


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We would like to thank the Max Planck Institute of Jena for funding and supporting this research.

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to D. Di Cagno.

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Di Cagno, D., Galliera, A., Güth, W. et al. Make-up and suspicion in bargaining with cheap talk: An experiment controlling for gender and gender constellation. Theory Decis 80, 463–471 (2016).

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  • Bargaining
  • Cheap-talk
  • Experiment
  • Gender