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Control Without Deception: Individual Behaviour in Free-Riding Experiments Revisited

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  • Nicholas Bardsley

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Abstract

Lying to participants offers an experimenter the enticing prospect of making “others' behaviour†a controlled variable, but is eschewed by experimental economists because it may pollute the pool of subjects. This paper proposes and implements a new experimental design, the Conditional Information Lottery, which offers all the benefits of deception without actually deceiving anyone. The design should be suitable for most economics experiments, and works by a modification of an already standard device, the Random Lottery incentive system. The deceptive scenarios of designs which use deceit are replaced with fictitious scenarios, each of which, from a subject's viewpoint, has a chance of being true. The design is implemented in a sequential play public good experiment prompted by Weimann's (1994) result, from a deceptive design, that subjects are more sensitive to free-riding than cooperation on the part of others. The experiment provides similar results to Weimann's, in that subjects are at least as cooperative when uninformed about others' behaviour as they are if reacting to high contributions. No deception is used and the data cohere well both internally and with other public goods experiments. In addition, simultaneous play is found to be more efficient than sequential play, and subjects contribute less at the end of a sequence than at the start. The results suggest pronounced elements of overconfidence, egoism and (biased) reciprocity in behaviour, which may explain decay in contributions in repeated play designs. The experiment shows there is a workable alternative to deception. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1011420500828
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 215-240

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:3:y:2000:i:3:p:215-240

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

Related research

Keywords: experimental economics; deception; reciprocity; public goods;

References

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  1. Bonetti, Shane, 1998. "Experimental economics and deception," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-395, June.
  2. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt46j0d6hb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  12. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
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  14. Robin Cubitt & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 1998. "On the Validity of the Random Lottery Incentive System," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 115-131, September.
  15. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
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  18. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ben-Ner, Avner & McCall, Brian P. & Stephane, Massoud & Wang, Hua, 2009. "Identity and in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 153-170, October.
  2. Gürerk, Özgür & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Rockenbach, Bettina, 2009. "Motivating teammates: The leader's choice between positive and negative incentives," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 591-607, August.
  3. David Rojo Arjona, 2010. "On the content of focal points," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 10-16, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  4. Anna Conte & Peter Moffatt, 2014. "The econometric modelling of social preferences," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 76(1), pages 119-145, January.
  5. Nicholas Bardsley & Peter Moffatt, 2005. "The Experimetrics of Public Goods: Inferring Motivations from Contributions," Discussion Papers 2005-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  6. Nathalie Etchart-Vincent & Olivier l’Haridon, 2011. "Monetary incentives in the loss domain and behavior toward risk: An experimental comparison of three reward schemes including real losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 61-83, February.
  7. Nicholas Bardsley & Peter G. Moffatt, 2000. "An Econometric Analysis of Voluntary Contributions," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-111/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Fairley, Kim & Sanfey, Alan & Vyrastekova, Jana & Weitzel, Utz, 2012. "Social risk and ambiguity in the trust game," MPRA Paper 42302, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Luigi Mittone & Francesca Bortolami, 2007. "Free riding and norms of control: self determination and imposition. An experimental comparison," CEEL Working Papers 0704, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  10. Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "Competence versus Trustworthiness: What Do Voters Care About?," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 060, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  11. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
  12. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
  13. Nicholas Bardsley & Peter G. Moffatt, 2000. "An Econometric Analysis of Voluntary Contributions," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-111/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  14. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
  15. Jamison, Julian & Karlan, Dean & Schechter, Laura, 2008. "To deceive or not to deceive: The effect of deception on behavior in future laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 477-488, December.
  16. Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2002. "The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 111-131, October.
  17. Werner Güth & M. Vittoria Levati & Matthias Sutter & Eline van der Heijden, 2004. "Leadership and cooperation in public goods experiments," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-29, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.

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