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The Costs of Deception: Evidence From Psychology

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  • Andreas Ortmann
  • Ralph Hertwig

Abstract

Recently, it has been argued that the evidence in social science research suggests that deceiving subjects in an experiment does not lead to a significant loss of experimental control. Based on this assessment, experimental economists were counseled to lift their de facto prohibition against deception to capture its potential benefits. To the extent that this recommendation is derived from empirical studies, we argue that it draws on a selective sample of the available evidence. Building on a systematic review of relevant research in psychology, we present two major results: First, the evidence suggests that the experience of having been deceived generates suspicion which in turn is likely to affect judgment and decision making of a non-negligible number of participants. Second, we find little evidence for reputational spillover effects that have been hypothesized by a number of authors in psychology and economics (e.g., Kelman, 1967; Davis and Holt, 1993). Based on a discussion of the methodological costs and benefits of deception, we conclude that experimental economists' prohibition of deception is a sensible convention that economists should not abandon.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague in its series CERGE-EI Working Papers with number wp191.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp191

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Keywords: experimental economics; deception; reputational spillover effects;

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References

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  1. Weimann, Joachim, 1994. "Individual behaviour in a free riding experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 185-200, June.
  2. Hausken, Kjell, 1995. "The dynamics of within-group and between-group interaction," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 655-687.
  3. Kreps, David M., 1990. "Game Theory and Economic Modelling," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198283812, September.
  4. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  5. McDaniel, Tanga & Starmer, Chris, 1998. "Experimental economics and deception: A comment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 403-409, June.
  6. Nicholas Bardsley, 2000. "Control Without Deception: Individual Behaviour in Free-Riding Experiments Revisited," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 215-240, December.
  7. Bonetti, Shane, 1998. "Reply to Hey and Starmer & McDaniel," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 411-414, June.
  8. Bonetti, Shane, 1998. "Experimental economics and deception," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-395, June.
  9. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  10. Ortmann, Andreas & Tichy, Lisa K., 1999. "Gender differences in the laboratory: evidence from prisoner's dilemma games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 327-339, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
  2. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortmann, 2014. "On Uneven Expected Earnings in the Lab," Discussion Papers 2014-07, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  3. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortman & Alberto Motta & Le Zhang, 2013. "Understanding Social Impact Bonds and Their Alternatives: An Experimental Investigation," Discussion Papers 2013-21, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  4. Terry Connolly & Jochen Reb, 2012. "Regret aversion in reason-based choice," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(1), pages 35-51, July.
  5. Alberti, Federica & Güth, Werner, 2013. "Studying deception without deceiving participants: An experiment of deception experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 196-204.
  6. 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.
  7. Innocenti, Alessandro, 2010. "How a psychologist informed economics: The case of Sidney Siegel," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 421-434, June.
  8. Krajc, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2008. "Are the unskilled really that unaware? An alternative explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 724-738, November.
  9. Federica Alberti & Werner Güth, 2012. "Studying deception without deceiving participants: An experiment of deception experiments," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  10. Andreas Ortmann, 2010. "'The Way in Which an Experiment is Conducted is Unbelievably Important': On the Experimentation Practices of Economists and Psychologists," Discussion Papers 2010-06, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  11. Colson, Gregory & Huffman, Wallace E. & Rousu, Matthew C., 2011. "Improving the Nutrient Content of Food through Genetic Modification: Evidence from Experimental Auctions on Consumer Acceptance," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(2), August.
  12. Fiore, Annamaria, 2009. "Experimental Economics: Some Methodological Notes," MPRA Paper 12498, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Arno Riedl, 2009. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Can Inform Public Policy: Some Thoughts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2902, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 403-419, September.
  15. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  16. Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2006. "Monetary Incentives: Usually Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp307, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.

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