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Luck or Cheating? A Field Experiment on Honesty with Children

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Author Info

  • Alessandro Bucciol

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We ran an experiment with children to study the development of honesty with age. We asked each child to toss a fair coin in private and to record the outcome (white or black) in a paper sheet. We rewarded only those who reported white. We found a fraction of reported whites signifi cantly larger than 50%, uniformly across age groups. This suggests that some children cheat when cheating is profi table and they are not observed. In a second treatment we told children not to cheat. This reminder reduced the probability of reporting white by 18% on average, and signifi cantly more in girls.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-28.

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Length: 10 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0828

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Keywords: honesty; children; fi eld experiment;

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  1. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  2. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
  3. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2008. "Honesty on the Streets - A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," Working Papers, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck 2009-24, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  4. Wenzel, Michael, 2005. "Misperceptions of social norms about tax compliance: From theory to intervention," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 862-883, December.
  5. Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2006. "Dishonesty in everyday life and its policy implications," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 06-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  6. Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "White-Collar Crime Writ Small: A Case Study of Bagels, Donuts, and the Honor System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 290-294, May.
  7. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 2003. "Learning to Bargain," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers, University of Oregon Economics Department 2004-9, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Nov 2003.
  8. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
  9. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
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