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The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology

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  • Andreas Ortmann
  • Ralph Hertwig

Abstract

Recently, it has been argued that the evidence in social science research suggests that deceiving participants in an experiment does not lead to a significant loss of experimental control. Based on this assessment, experimental economists were counseled to lift their de facto prohibition against deception to capture its potential benefits. To the extent that this recommendation is derived from empirical studies, we argue that it draws on a selective sample of the available evidence. Building on a systematic review of relevant research in psychology, we present two major results: First, the evidence suggests that the experience of having been deceived generates suspicion that in turn is likely to affect the judgment and decision making of a non-negligible number of participants. Second, we find little evidence for the reputational spillover effects that have been hypothesized by a number of authors in psychology and economics (e.g., Kelman, H.C., 1967. Psychological Bulletin. 67, 1–11; Davis, D.D. and Holt, C.A., 1993. Experimental Economics. Princeton University Press, Princeton). Based on a discussion of the methodological costs and benefits of deception, we conclude that experimental economists' prohibition of deception is a sensible convention that economists should not abandon. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2002. "The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(2), pages 111-131, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:5:y:2002:i:2:p:111-131 DOI: 10.1023/A:1020365204768
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Ortmann, Andreas & Tichy, Lisa K., 1999. "Gender differences in the laboratory: evidence from prisoner's dilemma games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 327-339, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Krajc, Marian & Ortmann, Andreas, 2008. "Are the unskilled really that unaware? An alternative explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 724-738.
    2. Colson, Gregory & Huffman, Wallace E. & Rousu, Matthew C., 2011. "Improving the Nutrient Content of Food through Genetic Modification: Evidence from Experimental Auctions on Consumer Acceptance," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(2), August.
    3. Jamison, Julian & Karlan, Dean & Schechter, Laura, 2008. "To deceive or not to deceive: The effect of deception on behavior in future laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 477-488, December.
    4. Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, pages 403-419.
    5. Krawczyk, Michał & Smyk, Magdalena, 2016. "Author׳s gender affects rating of academic articles: Evidence from an incentivized, deception-free laboratory experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 326-335.
    6. Innocenti, Alessandro, 2010. "How a psychologist informed economics: The case of Sidney Siegel," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 421-434, June.
    7. Lei, Vivian & Masclet, David & Vesely, Filip, 2014. "Competition vs. communication: An experimental study on restoring trust," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 94-107.
    8. Krawczyk, Michal, 2015. "“Trust me, I am an economist.” A note on suspiciousness in laboratory experiments," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 103-107.
    9. Andreas Ortmann, 2009. ""The Way in which an Experiment is Conducted is Unbelievably Important": On the Experimentation Practices of Economists and Psychologists," CESifo Working Paper Series 2887, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Arno Riedl, 2009. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Can Inform Public Policy: Some Thoughts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2902, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Fiore, Annamaria, 2009. "Experimental Economics: Some Methodological Notes," MPRA Paper 12498, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 384-394.
    13. Federica Alberti & Werner Güth, 2012. "Studying deception without deceiving participants: An experiment of deception experiments," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    14. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortmann, 2014. "On Uneven Expected Earnings in the Lab," Discussion Papers 2014-07, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    15. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
    16. Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2006. "Monetary Incentives: Usually Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp307, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    17. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortman & Alberto Motta & Le Zhang, 2013. "Understanding Social Impact Bonds and Their Alternatives: An Experimental Investigation," Discussion Papers 2013-21, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    18. Alberti, Federica & Güth, Werner, 2013. "Studying deception without deceiving participants: An experiment of deception experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 196-204.
    19. Terry Connolly & Jochen Reb, 2012. "Regret aversion in reason-based choice," Theory and Decision, Springer, pages 35-51.
    20. Suren Vardanyan, 2016. "Contagion in Experimental Financial Markets," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp580, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    21. Walkowitz, Gari, 2017. "On the Validity of Cost-Saving Methods in Dictator-Game Experiments: A Systematic Test," MPRA Paper 83309, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    experimental economics; deception; reputational spillover effects; experimental control;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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