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The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest

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  • Daylian M. Cain
  • George Loewenstein
  • Don A. Moore

Abstract

Conflicts of interest can lead experts to give biased and corrupt advice. Although disclosure is often proposed as a potential solution to these problems, we show that it can have perverse effects. First, people generally do not discount advice from biased advisors as much as they should, even when advisors’ conflicts of interest are disclosed. Second, disclosure can increase the bias in advice because it leads advisors to feel morally licensed and strategically encouraged to exaggerate their advice even further. As a result, disclosure may fail to solve the problems created by conflicts of interest and may sometimes even make matters worse.

Suggested Citation

  • Daylian M. Cain & George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2005. "The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:34:y:2005:p:1-25 DOI: 10.1086/426699
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
    2. Verrecchia, Robert E., 2001. "Essays on disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-3), pages 97-180, December.
    3. Dye, Ronald A., 2001. "An evaluation of "essays on disclosure" and the disclosure literature in accounting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-3), pages 181-235, December.
    4. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
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