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Do individuals successfully cover up their lies? Evidence from a compliance experiment

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  • Dwenger, Nadja
  • Lohse, Tim

Abstract

We study how well individuals in a face-to-face situation can delude others. We exploit data from a laboratory experiment in which participants were asked to assess video-taped statements as being rather truthful or untruthful. The statements are face-to-face tax declarations. The video clips feature each subject twice making the same declaration: One time the subject is reporting honestly, and the other time willingly dishonestly. This allows us to investigate within-subject differences in perceived truthfulness. Our study provides several novel insights. We find that individuals can cover up their lies successfully. On average, a subject is perceived as more truthful if she deceives than if she reports honestly. In particular, individuals with a genuine dishonest appearance manage to increase their perceived truthfulness by up to 14 percent when lying. Moreover, our results show that a subject appears less truthful if she had previously been caught lying. Being detected as a liar previously appears to impair self-confidence and to thereby lower an individual’s ability to deceive.

Suggested Citation

  • Dwenger, Nadja & Lohse, Tim, 2019. "Do individuals successfully cover up their lies? Evidence from a compliance experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 74-87.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:71:y:2019:i:c:p:74-87
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2018.08.007
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Face-to-face communication; Lying; Perceived truthfulness; Lie detection; Laboratory experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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