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Temptation and cheating behavior: Experimental evidence

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  • Pate, Jennifer

Abstract

This article presents an experiment designed to test the impact of temptation and self-selection into an opportunistic environment on an individual’s likelihood of engaging in dishonest behavior. In doing so, this experiment is the first of its kind to isolate the relationship between temptation and cheating as its primary focus, to create a randomized control group for comparative purposes, and to be conducted without deceiving subjects. The evidence shows that people who tempt themselves to cheat are more likely to cheat. Further, people who self-select into the opportunistic setting cheat to a greater extent than individuals placed into the same opportunistic condition by random assignment. There are no gender differences in choice of environment or likelihood of cheating. An individual’s self-reported value of ethics predicts honest behavior but only for subjects who consider their moral principles to be “very important” in their everyday lives. The results have direct implications for any environment where individuals can self-select into an opportunistic setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Pate, Jennifer, 2018. "Temptation and cheating behavior: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 135-148.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:67:y:2018:i:c:p:135-148
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2018.05.006
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    Cited by:

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    2. Maggioni, Mario A. & Rossignoli, Domenico, 2020. "Clever little lies: Math performance and cheating in primary schools in Congo," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 380-400.
    3. Mario Daniele Amore & Orsola Garofalo & Alice Guerra, 2023. "How Leaders Influence (un)Ethical Behaviors Within Organizations: A Laboratory Experiment on Reporting Choices," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 183(2), pages 495-510, March.
    4. Babin, J. Jobu & Chauhan, Haritima S. & Liu, Feng, 2022. "You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes: Honesty Oaths and Misrepresentation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    5. Jiao, Yuhang & Chen, Tong & Chen, Qiao, 2020. "The impact of expressing willingness to cooperate on cooperation in public goods game," Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Temptation; Cheating; Dishonesty; Opportunism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • L29 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Other

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