What Is a Signaling Game Game Theory?


Martha Robinson

Signaling Game Theory is a branch of game theory that focuses on the strategic interaction between two or more players where one player has private information. In these games, the player with private information can signal their type to other players through their actions or choices.

How does it work?
In a signaling game, there are two types of players: sender and receiver. The sender has private information about their type, while the receiver does not. The sender wants to convey their type to the receiver in order to achieve a favorable outcome.

A common example of a signaling game is a job interview. The candidate (sender) has private information about their skills and experience, while the employer (receiver) does not. The candidate may signal their skills and experience by dressing professionally, bringing a resume, and answering questions confidently.

Types of Signaling Games:
There are two types of signaling games: pooling equilibrium and separating equilibrium.

Pooling Equilibrium:

In a pooling equilibrium, all types of senders take the same action or make the same choice. This can be an effective strategy when the receiver cannot distinguish between different types of senders.

Consider a situation where high-quality and low-quality used cars are sold at the same price. In this scenario, high-quality car owners may decide not to invest in repairs or maintenance since they would not receive any additional benefits from doing so. Low-quality car owners may also choose not to invest in repairs because even if they do so, they will still be perceived as low-quality cars by potential buyers.

Separating Equilibrium:

In a separating equilibrium, different types of senders take different actions or make different choices that allow the receiver to distinguish between them.

Consider another job interview scenario where candidates have either high or low levels of education. If high-education candidates wear a suit and tie and low-education candidates wear casual clothes, the employer can distinguish between the two types of candidates based on their clothing choices.

Signaling games are commonly used in economics, political science, and sociology to analyze situations where one player has private information. They are also used in real-life scenarios such as job interviews, auctions, and advertising campaigns.


Signaling Game Theory is an important concept in game theory that helps understand how information can be conveyed through strategic interaction. By understanding the different types of signaling equilibria, we can gain valuable insights into various real-life scenarios and make better decisions based on them.