Title: The Power of Whispers: A Theory of Rumor, Communication and Revolution
Reference Number: 1201
Publication Date: September 2012
JEL Classifcation: D74, D83
Author(s):

HENG CHEN
University of Hong Kong

YANG K. LU
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

WING SUEN
University of Hong Kong

Abstract:
We study the role rumors play in revolutions using a global game model. Agents with diverse private information rationally evaluate the informativeness of rumors about the regime strength. Without communication among agents, wild rumors are discounted and agents are generally less responsive to rumors than to trustworthy news. When agents can exchange views on the informativeness of rumors, a rumor against the regime would coordinate a larger mass of attackers than that without communication. The effect of communication can be so large that rumors can have a greater impact on mobilization than does fully trustworthy information.

Key words: coordination game, public signals, swing population, mixture distribution, censorship

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Last modified: 11/14/2012