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When do simple policies win?

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We present a simple model to compare between simple and complex arguments in a debate between two interested parties. The two debaters engage in all-pay-auctions to win slots of time/attention to present their arguments to a decision maker. Simplicity of an argument or a policy is modelled through the (small) number of slots of attention needed to get the argument across. We show that when the number of attention slots is scarce, simple policies have an advantage over more complex arguments. This advantage is stronger in sequential debates, in which players receive feedback about which message got across to the decision maker, as compared to debates in which no such feedback is provided. We show that this advantage of simple arguments is diminished when there is no scarcity of time/attention constraints, if the decision maker is strongly persuaded by more complex arguments.

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