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Truth, Trust, and Sanctions: On Institutional Selection in Sender–Receiver Games

Author

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  • Ronald Peeters
  • Marc Vorsatz
  • Markus Walzl

Abstract

This paper reports on a laboratory experiment which investigates the impact of institutions and institutional choice in constant-sum sender-receiver games. We compare individual sender and receiver behavior in two different institutions: A sanction-free institution which is given by the bare sender-receiver game and a sanctioning institution which in addition offers the receiver the opportunity to (costly) sanction the sender after receiving feedback on the senders private information. We conduct the experiment in two phases: First, individuals are randomly assigned to an institution, and second they can choose the institution themselves.We find that sanctioning takes place predominantly after the receiver has trusted a lie by the sender. Those who are responsible for sanctioning are also responsible for truth-telling in excess with respect to models of rational payoff-maximizing agents.Thereby, the sanctioning institution exhibits more truth-telling. Most importantly, agents who sanction reveal preference for the sanctioning institution while the other subjects almost exclusively opt for the sanction-free institution. As a consequence, both institutions typically coexist in the second phase of the experiment and the sanctioning institution exhibits a higher level of truth-telling and lower aggregate material payoffs.To offer an explanation of our experimental findings, we formalize preferences for truth-telling as psychological payoffs and analyze the sender-receiver game as a dynamic psychological game à la Battigalli and Dufwenberg (2006). We demonstrate that standard models of social preferences are not able to explain observed sanctioning behavior and excessive truth-telling. Explicit psychological costs of lying and the exposition to a lie, however, are able to fill this gap. To this end, we model deontological and consequentialistic preferences for truth-telling and evaluate their respective explanatory power.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ronald Peeters & Marc Vorsatz & Markus Walzl, 2013. "Truth, Trust, and Sanctions: On Institutional Selection in Sender–Receiver Games," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 508-548, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:115:y:2013:i:2:p:508-548
    DOI: sjoe.12003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Anabela Botelho & Glenn W. Harrison & Lígia Costa Pinto & Elisabet E. Rutstrom, 2005. "Social norms and social choice," NIMA Working Papers 30, Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho.
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    5. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2003. "Truth or Consequences: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 116-130, January.
    6. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-171.
    7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sascha Behnk & Iván Barreda-Tarrazona & Aurora García-Gallego, 2017. "An experimental test of reporting systems for deception," Working Papers 2017/11, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    2. Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Guido Voigt, 2017. "Strategic risk in supply chain contract design," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 87(1), pages 125-153, January.
    3. Gurdal, Mehmet Y. & Ozdogan, Ayca & Saglam, Ismail, 2013. "Cheap talk with simultaneous versus sequential messages," MPRA Paper 45727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Khalmetski, Kiryl & Rockenbach, Bettina & Werner, Peter, 2017. "Evasive Lying in Strategic Communication," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168119, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:59-72 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mehmet Gurdal & Ayca Ozdogan & Ismail Saglam, 2014. "Truth-telling and trust in sender–receiver games with intervention: an experimental study," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 18(2), pages 83-103, June.
    7. Peeters, Ronald & Vorsatz, Marc & Walzl, Markus, 2015. "Beliefs and truth-telling: A laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-12.
    8. Cardak, Buly A & Neelim, Ananta & Vecci, Joseph & Wu, Kevin, 2017. "Would I lie to you? Strategic deception in the face of uncertain penalties," Working Papers in Economics 689, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    9. Raúl López-Pérez & Eli Spiegelman, 2013. "Why do people tell the truth? Experimental evidence for pure lie aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 233-247, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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