Denis Shishkin Assistant Professor of Economics University of California San Diego

I study microeconomic theory with a focus on information design and mechanism design. I am also interested in behavioral economics and experimental economics.

Before joining UC San Diego, I received a PhD in Economics at Princeton University in 2020.

Working Papers

Which hard evidence to seek if disclosure is voluntary?

PDF ACM EC '21 Extended abstract

A sender seeks hard evidence to persuade a receiver to accept a project by designing a quality test. Testing is not perfectly reliable and produces evidence only with some probability. If the sender obtains the evidence, she can choose to disclose it or pretend to not have obtained it. We show that when reliability is low, the sender chooses a pass/fail test that reveals whether the quality is above or below a threshold. Moreover, the equilibrium pass/fail threshold is always monotone in reliability but whether it is increasing or decreasing depends on whether evidence acquisition is overt or covert.

How well do third-degree price discrimination strategies perform when they are based on data?

PDF arXiv

Recent technological advances have enabled firms to use data to price discriminate. This paper studies third-degree price discrimination (3PD) based on a random sample of valuation and covariate data, where the covariate is continuous, and the distribution of the data is unknown to the seller. We first propose a K-markets empirical revenue maximization (ERM) strategy and study its rates of convergence in revenue. We then establish the fundamental information-theoretic limitation of any data-based pricing strategy and show that the 𝐾-markets ERM and the uniform (i.e., 1-market) ERM strategies generate revenue converging to that of the true-distribution 3PD and uniform optima, respectively, at the optimal rate. A key takeaway from our information-theoretic limitation results is that, no sample-based 3PD strategy is able to escape from the curse of dimensionality and hence the 𝐾- markets ERM strategy is not an exception. This result prompts us to compare the revenues from the K-markets ERM and the uniform ERM in more specific cases. This comparison is ambiguous, in contrast to the classic pricing problem with a known distribution where third-degree price discrimination is at least as good as uniform pricing in generating revenue.

When is the sender's equilibrium payoff unique in Bayesian persuasion?


A sender commits to an experiment to persuade a receiver. Accounting for the sender’s experiment-choice incentives, and not presupposing a receiver tie-breaking rule when indifferent, we characterize when the sender’s equilibrium payoff is unique and so coincides with her “Bayesian persuasion” value. A sufficient condition in finite models is that every action which is receiver-optimal at some belief is uniquely optimal at some other belief—a generic property. We similarly show the equilibrium sender payoff is typically unique in ordered models. In an extension, we show uniqueness generates robustness to imperfect sender commitment.

Published and Accepted Papers

How can a monopolist use framing effects in extensive-form mechanisms?

PDF ACM EC '21 Extended abstract

A principal faces an agent with frame-dependent preferences and designs an extensive-form decision problem with a frame at each stage. This allows the principal to induce dynamic inconsistency and thereby circumvent incentive compatibility constraints. We show that a vector of contracts can be implemented if and only if it can be implemented using a canonical extensive form, which has a simple high-low-high structure using only three stages and the two highest frames. We apply our results to the classic monopolistic screening problem. Some types buy in the first stage, while others continue the interaction and buy at the last stage. The firm offers unchosen decoy contracts. Sophisticated consumers correctly anticipate that if they deviated, they would choose a decoy, which they want to avoid in a lower frame. This eliminates incentive compatibility constraints into types who don’t buy in the first stage. With naive consumers, the principal can perfectly screen by cognitive type and extract full surplus from naifs.

Do sets of beliefs dilate when information is ambiguous?


With standard models of updating under ambiguity, new information may increase the amount of relevant ambiguity: the set of beliefs may ‘dilate.’ We experimentally test one sharp case: agents bet on a risky urn and get information that is truthful or not based on the draw from an Ellsberg urn. With common models, the set of beliefs dilates, and the value of bets decreases for ambiguity-averse agents and increases for ambiguity-seeking ones. Instead, we find that the value of bets does not change for ambiguity-averse individuals, while it increases substantially for ambiguity-seeking ones. We also test bets on ambiguous urns, in which case we find sizable reactions to ambiguous information.

How does credibility affect persuasion?

PDF Appendix 2021 version with additional results

A sender commissions a study to persuade a receiver, but influences the report with some probability. We show that increasing this probability can benefit the receiver and can lead to a discontinuous drop in the sender's payoffs. To derive our results, we geometrically characterize the sender's highest equilibrium payoff, which is based on the concavification of a capped value function.