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Truth-Telling: A Representative Assessment

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  • Abeler, Johannes

    ()
    (University of Oxford)

  • Becker, Anke

    ()
    (University of Bonn)

  • Falk, Armin

    ()
    (University of Bonn)

Abstract

A central assumption of the canonical cheap talk literature is that people misreport their private information if this is to their material benefit. Recent evidence from laboratory experiments with student subjects suggests, however, that while many people do report the payoff-maximizing outcome, some report their private information truthfully or at least do not lie maximally. We measure truth-telling outside the laboratory by calling a representative sample of the German population at home. In our setup, participants have a strong monetary incentive to misreport, misreporting cannot be detected, and reputational concerns are negligible. Yet, we find that aggregate reporting behavior closely follows the expected truthful distribution. Our results underline the importance of lying costs and raise questions regarding the influence of the decision-making environment and the elicitation mode on reporting behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6919.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2014, 113, 96-104
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6919

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Keywords: private information; cheap talk; honesty; lying costs; representative experiment;

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References

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  7. Raúl López-Pérez, 2010. "Guilt and shame: an axiomatic analysis," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(4), pages 569-586, October.
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  11. Dreber, Anna & Johannesson, Magnus, 2008. "Gender differences in deception," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 197-199, April.
  12. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
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  14. Saran, Rene, 2011. "Bilateral trading with naive traders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 544-557, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Valeria Maggian & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Social preferences and lying aversion in children," Working Papers halshs-00924980, HAL.
  2. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2013. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 623, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal & Thomas Noll, 2013. "Bad boys: the effect of criminal identity on dishonesty," ECON - Working Papers 132, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Ariely, Dan & Garcia-Rada, Ximena & Hornuf, Lars & Mann, Heather, 2014. "The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems," Discussion Papers in Economics 20974, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. David Gill & Victoria Prowse & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2013. "Cheating in the workplace: An experimental study of the impact of bonuses and productivity," Economics Series Working Papers 666, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Alessandro Bucciol & Luca Zarri, 2013. "Lying in Politics: Evidence from the US," Working Papers 22/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.

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