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Why do people tell the truth? Experimental evidence for pure lie aversion

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  • Raúl López-Pérez
  • Eli Spiegelman

Abstract

A recent experimental literature shows that truth-telling is not always motivated by pecuniary motives, and several alternative motivations have been proposed. However, their relative importance in any given context is still not totally clear. This paper investigates the relevance of pure lie aversion, that is, a dislike for lies independent of their consequences. We propose a very simple design where other motives considered in the literature predict zero truth-telling, whereas pure lie aversion predicts a non-zero rate. Thus we interpret the finding that more than a third of the subjects tell the truth as evidence for pure lie aversion. Our design also prevents confounds with another motivation (a desire to act as others expect us to act) not frequently considered but consistent with much existing evidence. We also observe that subjects who tell the truth are more likely to believe that others will tell the truth as well. Copyright Economic Science Association 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Raúl López-Pérez & Eli Spiegelman, 2013. "Why do people tell the truth? Experimental evidence for pure lie aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 233-247, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:16:y:2013:i:3:p:233-247
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-012-9324-x
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Communication; Honesty; Guilt aversion; Lie aversion; Norms; C70; C91; D03; D64;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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