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Large stakes and little honesty? Experimental evidence from a developing country


  • Leibbrandt, Andreas
  • Maitra, Pushkar
  • Neelim, Ananta


We experimentally study the extent to which individuals are honest when lying can result in a gain of several months’ worth of income. Randomly selected individuals from villages in Bangladesh participated in a sender–receiver cheap talk game. We varied the potential benefits from providing false recommendations. While we find that individuals are more likely to provide false recommendations when stakes are very large, we still observe that almost half of the senders refrain from lying. In contrast, receivers are generally suspicious and the majority does not follow recommendations.

Suggested Citation

  • Leibbrandt, Andreas & Maitra, Pushkar & Neelim, Ananta, 2018. "Large stakes and little honesty? Experimental evidence from a developing country," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 76-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:169:y:2018:i:c:p:76-79
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2018.05.007

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    Cited by:

    1. Sanjit Dhami, 2017. "Human Ethics and Virtues: Rethinking the Homo-Economicus Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 6836, CESifo.
    2. Shuguang Jiang & Marie Claire Villeval, 2022. "Dishonesty in Developing Countries -What Can We Learn From Experiments?," Working Papers hal-03899654, HAL.
    3. Alexander Henke & Fahad Khalil & Jacques Lawarree, 2022. "Honest agents in a corrupt equilibrium," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(3), pages 762-783, August.
    4. Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain & Pushkar Maitra & Joe Vecci, 2022. "Lab-in-the-field experiments: perspectives from research on gender," The Japanese Economic Review, Springer, vol. 73(1), pages 31-59, January.
    5. Gylfason, Haukur Freyr & Vésteinsdóttir, Vaka & Kristinsson, Kari & Asgeirsdottir, Tinna Laufey & Schram, Arthur, 2023. "Gender differences in lying: The role of stakes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 222(C).
    6. Despoina Alempaki & Valeria Burdea & Daniel Read, 2023. "Deceptive Communication: Direct Lies vs. Ignorance, Partial-Truth and Silence," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 444, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    7. Despoina Alempaki & Valeria Burdea & Daniel Read, 2021. "Deceptive Communication: Direct Lies vs. Ignorance, Partial-Truth and Silence," CESifo Working Paper Series 9286, CESifo.

    More about this item


    Artefactual field experiment; Honesty; Deception; Stakes; Development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers


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