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Separating Will from Grace: An experiment on conformity and awareness in cheating

Author

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  • Fosgaard, Toke Reinholt
  • Hansen, Lars Gaarn
  • Piovesan, Marco

Abstract

In this paper we investigate if people cheat more when they observe their peers cheating because they conform or because they become aware that cheating is something to actively consider. In our experiment subjects toss a coin in private and report the outcome (white or black). We reward only those who report white and leave them the possibility to cheat without being discovered. In our 2×2 experimental design, we manipulated subjects’ report sheet to (i) suggest (or not) that cheating is an option; (ii) suggest that their peers were honest (or dishonest). We find that increasing awareness of cheating as an option significantly increases the probability that women cheat; whereas men – who are already aware that cheating is an option – are not affected. When we suggest that peers have cheated, men cheat significantly more, whereas women do not.

Suggested Citation

  • Fosgaard, Toke Reinholt & Hansen, Lars Gaarn & Piovesan, Marco, 2013. "Separating Will from Grace: An experiment on conformity and awareness in cheating," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 279-284.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:93:y:2013:i:c:p:279-284
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.03.027
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Urs Fischbacher & Franziska Föllmi-Heusi, 2013. "Lies In Disguise—An Experimental Study On Cheating," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 525-547, June.
    2. Erat, Sanjiv, 2013. "Avoiding lying: The case of delegated deception," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 273-278.
    3. Bucciol, Alessandro & Landini, Fabio & Piovesan, Marco, 2013. "Unethical behavior in the field: Demographic characteristics and beliefs of the cheater," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 248-257.
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    11. Dreber, Anna & Johannesson, Magnus, 2008. "Gender differences in deception," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 197-199, April.
    12. Bucciol, Alessandro & Piovesan, Marco, 2011. "Luck or cheating? A field experiment on honesty with children," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 73-78, February.
    13. Barbara Ritter, 2006. "Can Business Ethics be Trained? A Study of the Ethical Decision-making Process in Business Students," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 68(2), pages 153-164, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cheating; Norms; Conformity; Awareness; Gender differences;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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