IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

On the interpretation of bribery in a laboratory corruption game: moral frames and social norms

Listed author(s):
  • Ritwik Banerjee

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

Abstract Past studies on laboratory corruption games have not been able to find consistent evidence that subjects make “immoral” decisions. A possible reason, and also a critique of laboratory corruption games, is that the experiment may fail to trigger the intended immorality frame in the minds of the participants, leading many to question the very raison d’être of laboratory corruption games. To test this idea, we compare behavior in a harassment bribery game with a strategically identical but neutrally framed ultimatum game. The results show that fewer people, both as briber and bribee, engage in corruption in the bribery frame than in the alternative and the average bribe amount is lesser in the former than in the latter. These suggest that moral costs are indeed at work. A third treatment, which relabels the bribery game in neutral language, indicates that the observed treatment effect arises not from the neutral language of the ultimatum game but from a change in the sense of entitlement between the bribery and ultimatum game frames. To provide further support that the bribery game does measure moral costs, we elicit the shared perceptions of appropriateness of the actions or social norm, under the two frames. We show that the social norm governing the bribery game frame and ultimatum game frame are indeed different and that the perceived sense of social appropriateness plays a crucial role in determining the actual behavior in the two frames. Furthermore, merely relabelling the bribery game in neutral language makes no difference to the social appropriateness norm governing it. This indicates that, just as in the case of actual behavior, the observed difference in social appropriateness norm between bribery game and ultimatum game comes from the difference in entitlement too. Finally, we comment on the external validity of behavior in lab corruption games.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10683-015-9436-1
File Function: Abstract
Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer & Economic Science Association in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 19 (2016)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 240-267

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:19:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-015-9436-1
DOI: 10.1007/s10683-015-9436-1
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springer.com

Web page: https://www.economicscience.org/index.html;jsessionid=3F1701A870A8B0D3BDB91479792ADFA5
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/economic+theory/journal/10683/PS2

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  2. Banuri, Sheheryar & Eckel, Catherine, 2012. "Experiments in culture and corruption : a review," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6064, The World Bank.
  3. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  4. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 548-573, 06.
  5. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," Working Papers 200935, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  6. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
  7. David Cooper & John Kagel & Qing Liang Gu & Wei Lo, 1999. "Gaming against managers in incentive systems: Experimental results with chinese students and chinese managers," Artefactual Field Experiments 00038, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Englmaier, Florian & Gebhardt, Georg, 2010. "Free Riding in the Lab and in the Field," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 344, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  9. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
  10. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2009. "The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(4), pages 488-503, December.
  11. Axel Franzen & Sonja Pointner, 2013. "The external validity of giving in the dictator game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(2), pages 155-169, June.
  12. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2002. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 428-454, October.
  14. 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.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Social norms and human cooperation," Macroeconomics 0409026, EconWPA.
  16. Ruffle, Bradley J., 1998. "More Is Better, But Fair Is Fair: Tipping in Dictator and Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 247-265, May.
  17. Oxoby, Robert J. & Spraggon, John, 2008. "Mine and yours: Property rights in dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 703-713, March.
  18. Anna Dreber & Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson & David Rand, 2013. "Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 349-371, September.
  19. Abbink, Klaus & Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun, 2014. "Letting the briber go free: An experiment on mitigating harassment bribes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-28.
  20. Reuben, Ernesto & Riedl, Arno, 2013. "Enforcement of contribution norms in public good games with heterogeneous populations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 122-137.
  21. Danila Serra, 2006. "Empirical determinants of corruption: A sensitivity analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 225-256, January.
  22. Barr, Abigail & Serra, Danila, 2010. "Corruption and culture: An experimental analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 862-869, December.
  23. Innes Robert & Mitra Arnab, 2013. "Is Dishonesty Contagious?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 722-734, January.
  24. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  25. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2009. "Subject pool effects in a corruption experiment: A comparison of Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(1), pages 113-132, March.
  26. Krupka, Erin & Weber, Roberto A., 2009. "The focusing and informational effects of norms on pro-social behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 307-320, June.
  27. Banerjee, Ritwik & Baul, Tushi & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2015. "On self selection of the corrupt into the public sector," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 43-46.
  28. Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2006. "Dishonesty in everyday life and its policy implications," Working Papers 06-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  29. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "On Expectations and the Monetary Stakes in Ultimatum Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 25(3), pages 289-301.
  30. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  31. Cameron, Lisa & Chaudhuri, Ananish & Erkal, Nisvan & Gangadharan, Lata, 2009. "Propensities to engage in and punish corrupt behavior: Experimental evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia and Singapore," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 843-851, August.
  32. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
  33. Olivier Armantier & Amadou Boly, 2013. "Comparing Corruption in the Laboratory and in the Field in Burkina Faso and in Canada," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1168-1187, December.
  34. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  35. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  36. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:19:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-015-9436-1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Rebekah McClure)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.