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The Mind Game: Invisible Cheating and Inferable Intentions

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  • Ting Jiang
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    Abstract

    This paper exploits a novel cheating game - the “Mind Game” - to show how a subtle variation in the rules of the game affects cheating. In both variants of the game, cheating is invisible because subjects make their choices purely in their minds. The only difference rests on the order of the steps in which subjects should play the game. I find that subjects cheat significantly less when they have to disregard the prescribed order of steps in order to cheat, compare to when they can purely lie about the choice made in the mind. Since subjects play the game in private with a double-blind payment procedure, I conjecture that subjects only cheat to the extent that their moral self-image is still preserved. But the moral image can be preserved if they can deceive themselves into believing that at least their intentions are good, and not if cheating requires an act that reveals the intent to cheat. This study thus suggests a potential role of intent inference in deterring cheating.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/licos/publications/dp/dp309.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven in its series LICOS Discussion Papers with number 30912.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:30912

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    Related research

    Keywords: cheating; intent; self-deception; moral self-image; the mind game;

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    References

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mead, N.L. & Baumeister, R.F. & Gino, F. & Schweitzer, M.E. & Ariely, D., 2009. "Too tired to tell the truth: Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3557352, Tilburg University.
    3. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Li Hao & Daniel Houser, 2013. "Perceptions, Intentions, and Cheating," Working Papers 1039, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Feb 2013.

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