Self-interested paid advisors should try to sell their solutions no matter how they came about. However, we present evidence that advisor persuasiveness depends on two dimensions of their prior problem solving: solution difficulty and demonstrability. We report a laboratory experiment with repeated advisor-client interactions where both these dimensions are independently varied. Persuasion rises in solution demonstrability and falls in difficulty. The reason is non-optimising behaviour: Advisors lacking in confidence fail to conceal difficult problem solving and those receiving their advice baulk when the proposed solution lacks objective success criteria irrespective of its promise. Our findings suggest differential prospects for persuasion and selling of different kinds of products, services and ideas.
Bibliographical notePublished online 26 October 2019.
- Lying cost