Carl Heese

I'm an Assistant Professor at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) Before that, I was an Assistant Professor at University of Vienna, and received my Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in 2020.
I am organizing the Micro Theory Seminar at HKU .

  Email: heese(at)
  Contact: +852 391 77069
  Office: Room 802, K.K. Leung Building, Pok Fu Lam Rd, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong
  Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Fields of interest: Political Economomy, collective choice, information design, behavioral economics

Working Papers

1. Information Frictions and Oppposed Political Interests

CRC discussion paper , Slides


This paper studies collective choices with information frictions. In a majority election, voters can acquire private information about policy consequences before voting though this requires costly effort. Information frictions alter the power relationships between opposed political interests by turning the election into an informational contest: There is an equilibrium in which the policy preferred by the interest group with the higher aggregate information acquisition effort is elected; outcomes therein represent voters with a minority interest if, they have comparably high utilities. Information advantages and internal conflicts of opinion matter: we characterize how information cost and the dispersion of priors modulate the influence of an interest group.

2. The Equilibrium Coordination Problem in Elections with Costly Information


Voters decide between two policies in a majority election. All voters share a commonly known preference type but are uncertain about which policy is better for them. They can acquire private information about the policy consequences at a cost. Thus, political information is a public good. In all equilibria, voters under-invest in political information. We identify another source of inefficiencies: equilibrium mis-coordination. When the marginal cost of information are arbitrarily low, there are two equilibria, ordered by the information investment of the voters. In a large electorate, only the high investment equilibrium is asymptotically efficient.

3. Persuasion and Information Aggregation in Elections (with Stephan Lauermann), Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Political Economy (updated: May 24)

CRC discussion paper, Supplement on Persuasion in Elections when Voting is Costly


This paper studies a large majority election with voters who have heterogeneous, private preferences and exogenous private information about an unknown state of the world. We show that a Bayesian persuader can achieve any state-contingent outcome in some equilibrium by providing additional information. In this setting, without the persuader's additional information, a version of the Condorcet jury theorem holds, in the sense that outcomes of large elections satisfy full-information equivalence (Feddersen and Pesendorfer, 1997). Persuasion does not require detailed knowledge of the voters' private information, preferences, or the voting rule. It also requires almost no commitment power on the part of the persuader.

4. Persuasion versus Presentation (with Shuo Liu),

SSRN discussion paper


In many economic situations, a sender communicates strategically with a receiver not only to influence the receiver's decision-making but also to shape the perception of unobserved characteristics of herself (e.g. morality, loyalty, or capability). To study such situations, we propose a model of Bayesian persuasion in which a sender communicates about a pay-off relevant state to influence decisions but also has a private type and cares about how she presents herself. Optimal communication balances persuasion and self-presentation by signaling about the sender's type. Such signaling through the design of communication has non-standard implications for the receiver: Whether the receiver fares better or worse compared to the pure persuasion setting may depend on the selected equilibrium and effects can be non-monotone with respect to the sender's type. We illustrate our findings within various classic payoff environments, for instance with quadratic losses or state-independent sender preferences. Finally, we use the model to shed new light on a series of applications.

5. Fishing for good news: Motivated Information Acquisition (with Si Chen),

CRC discussion paper, Econ Job Market Best Paper Award 6th Edition


The literature on motivated reasoning argues that people skew their beliefs to feel moral when acting selfishly. Leveraging techniques from the Bayesian persuasion literature, we study the information acquisition of decision-makers with a motive to form positive moral self-views and a motive to act selfishly. Theoretically and experimentally, we find that a motive to act selfishly makes individuals dynamically `fish for good news’: they are more likely to continue (stop) acquiring information, having so far received mostly information suggesting that acting selfishly is harmful (harmless) to others. We also find that fishing for good news may improve social welfare and that more intelligent individuals have a higher tendency to fish for good news.

Work In Progress

1. On Democratic Representation: Citizens with Skin in the Game

2. Persuasion in Elections with Participation Cost (with Stephan Lauermann)

draft avalaible on request

3. Strategic Understatements (with Deniz Kattwinkel)


We study the design of quality certificates. The certificate holder (sender) tries to convince a receiver of his quality. The receiver benefits from more precise knowledge about the sender’s quality and can costly verify the sender's quality. We show that if the certificate is too selective, in all equilibria, senders of very high quality do not present the certificate; they pool with low-quality types who do not hold a certificate. The high types forgo a signaling opportunity ("understatement"), but thereby motivate the receiver to costly verify their high quality herself. Conversely, when the certificate is not too selective, there are monotone equilibria where higher types are more likely to present their certificates.

4. Persuasion of a Continuum

Short Notes

1. Selecting candidates: the value of non-uniform tests and self-reports

2. Note: A Generalized Intermediate Value Theorem (with Mehmet Ekmekci and Stephan Lauermann)

3. Note: Social Learning with State-Dependent Observations


In this note, I study a variant of the canonical binary-state binary-choice social learning model (Bikhchandani et al., 1992). An individual would like to choose an action only in the high state. When making her own decision, she observes previous decision-makers who chose the action. Importantly, the likelihood of observing the action of previous decision-maker depends on the state. I show that when observing the action is more likely in the low state, the individual faces an inference problem: does she observe many actions because the state is high and previous decision-makers had private information about this or because the state is low and previous actions are more visible. In this situation, learning is confounded (Smith and Sorensen, 2000).