When Ignorance Is Bliss: Information Exchange and Inefficiency in Bargaining
Don A. Moore
Most theories of legal discovery assume that the sharing of information among disputing parties will lead to convergence of expectations and facilitate settlement. However, psychological research shows that shared information, if open to multiple interpretations, is likely to be interpreted egocentrically by the disputants, which can cause beliefs to diverge rather than converge. We present results from a bargaining experiment that demonstrate that information sharing leads to divergence of expectations and to settlement delays when the information exchanged is amenable to multiple interpretations. By contrast, when there is only one obvious interpretation, information sharing leads to convergence of expectations and speeds settlement. We show, further, that information sharing moderates the relationship between the size of the bargaining zone and the prospects for settlement.
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