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Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important: Comparing stated and revealed behavior

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  • Alem, Yonas
  • Eggert, Håkan
  • Kocher, Martin G.
  • Ruhinduka, Remidius D.

Abstract

Understanding unethical behavior is essential to many phenomena in the real world. We carry out a field experiment in a unique setting that varies the levels of reciprocity and guilt in an ethical decision. A survey more than one year before the field experiment allows us to compare at the individual level stated unethical behavior with revealed behavior in the same situation in the field. Our results indicate a strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior, regardless of the specific treatment in the field experiment. This suggests that, given a natural setting, people may actually behave inconsistently with the way in which they otherwise “brand” themselves. Our findings raise caution about the interpretation of stated behavioral measures commonly used in research on unethical behavior. In addition, we show that inducing reciprocity and guilt leads to a decrease in unethical behavior.

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  • Alem, Yonas & Eggert, Håkan & Kocher, Martin G. & Ruhinduka, Remidius D., 2018. "Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important: Comparing stated and revealed behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 71-85.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:156:y:2018:i:c:p:71-85
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.08.026
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    2. Vranka, Marek & Frollová, Nikola & Pour, Marek & Novakova, Julie & Houdek, Petr, 2019. "Cheating customers in grocery stores: A field study on dishonesty," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    3. Cheo, Roland & Ge, Ge & Liu, Rugang & Wang, Jian & Wang, Qiqi, 2023. "Physician beneficence and profit-taking among private for-profit clinics in China: A field study using a mystery shopper audit," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
    4. Prochazka, Jakub & Fedoseeva, Yulia & Houdek, Petr, 2021. "A field experiment on dishonesty: A registered replication of Azar et al. (2013)," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    5. Goytom Abraha Kahsay & Workineh Asmare Kassie & Abebe Damte Beyene & Lars Gårn Hansen, 2017. "Do public works programs crowd-out pro-environmental behavior? Empirical evidence from food-for-work programs in Ethiopia," IFRO Working Paper 2017/13, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
    6. Nicholas R. Jenkins & Michelangelo Landgrave & Gabriel E. Martinez, 2020. "Do political donors have greater access to government officials? Evidence from a FOIA field experiment with US municipalities," Journal of Behavioral Public Administration, Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration, vol. 3(2).
    7. Ayal, Shahar & Celse, Jérémy & Hochman, Guy, 2021. "Crafting messages to fight dishonesty: A field investigation of the effects of social norms and watching eye cues on fare evasion," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 9-19.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Honesty; Kindness; Guilt; Field experiment; Behavioral economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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