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When foul play seems fair: Exploring the link between just deserts and honesty

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  • Galeotti, Fabio
  • Kline, Reuben
  • Orsini, Raimondello

Abstract

The distributive justice norm of “just deserts”—i.e. the notion that one gets what one deserves—is an essential norm in a market society, and honesty is an important factor in economic and social exchange. We experimentally investigate the effect of violations of the distributive justice norm of “just deserts” on honesty in a setting where behaving dishonestly entails income redistribution. We find that the violation of the just deserts norm results in a greater propensity toward dishonesty. We then test a more general proposition that violations of just deserts induce dishonesty, even in cases where dishonesty does not have redistributive consequences. Our results confirm this proposition but only for cases in which the violation of just deserts also entails income inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Galeotti, Fabio & Kline, Reuben & Orsini, Raimondello, 2017. "When foul play seems fair: Exploring the link between just deserts and honesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 451-467.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:451-467
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.08.007
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    C91; D03; D31; D63; Meritocracy; Equity; Dishonesty; Just deserts; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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