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To Deceive or Not to Deceive: The Effect of Deception on Behavior inFuture Laboratory Experiments


  • Jamison, Julian

    (U of California, Berkeley)

  • Karlan, Dean

    (Yale U)

  • Schechter, Laura

    (U of Wisconsin)


Experimental economists believe (and enforce) that researchers should not employ deception in the design of experiments. The rule exists in order to protect a public good: the ability of other researchers to conduct experiments and have participants trust their instructions to be an accurate representation of the game being played. Yet other social sciences, particularly psychology, do not maintain such a rule. We examine whether such a public goods problem exists by purposefully deceiving some participants in one study, and then examining whether the deceived participants behave differently in a subsequent study. We find significant differences in both the selection of individuals who return to play after being deceived as well as (to a lesser extent) the behavior in the subsequent games, thus providing qualified support for the proscription of deception. We discuss policy implications for the maintenance of separate participant pools.

Suggested Citation

  • Jamison, Julian & Karlan, Dean & Schechter, Laura, 2006. "To Deceive or Not to Deceive: The Effect of Deception on Behavior inFuture Laboratory Experiments," Working Papers 18, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:18

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3138-3160, November.
    2. Griffin, John & Nickerson, David & Wozniak, Abigail, 2012. "Racial differences in inequality aversion: Evidence from real world respondents in the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 600-617.
    3. Claire Adida & David Laitin & Marie-Anne Valfort, 2014. "Muslims in France: identifying a discriminatory equilibrium," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 1039-1086, October.
    4. Selim Jürgen Ergun & Teresa García-Muñoz & M.Fernanda Rivas, 2010. "Gender Differences in Economic Experiments," ThE Papers 10/14, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    5. Anna Conte & M. Vittoria Levati & Chiara Nardi, 2013. "The Role of Emotions on Risk Preferences: An Experimental Analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-046, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    6. Sarah Mörtenhuber & Andreas Nicklisch & Kai-Uwe Schnapp, 2016. "What Goes Around, Comes Around: Experimental Evidence on Exposed Lies," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-14, October.
    7. Deb, Rahul & Gazzale, Robert S. & Kotchen, Matthew J., 2014. "Testing motives for charitable giving: A revealed-preference methodology with experimental evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 181-192.
    8. Gregory Colson & Jay R. Corrigan & Carola Grebitus & Maria L. Loureiro & Matthew C. Rousu, 2016. "Which Deceptive Practices, If Any, Should Be Allowed in Experimental Economics Research? Results from Surveys of Applied Experimental Economists and Students," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 98(2), pages 610-621.
    9. Daniela Di Cagno & Werner Güth & Giacomo Sillari, 2015. "The better toolbox: Experimental Methodology in Economics and Psychology," Working Papers CESARE 2/2015, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    10. Arno Riedl, 2009. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Can Inform Public Policy: Some Thoughts," CESifo Working Paper Series 2902, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Michał Krawczyk, 2013. "Delineating deception in experimental economics: Researchers' and subjects' views," Working Papers 2013-11, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    12. Chuang, Yating & Schechter, Laura, 2015. "Stability of experimental and survey measures of risk, time, and social preferences: A review and some new results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 151-170.
    13. Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 403-419, September.
    14. Mathieu Lefebvre & Pierre Pestieau & Arno Riedl & Marie Villeval, 2015. "Tax evasion and social information: an experiment in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(3), pages 401-425, June.
    15. 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.
    16. Alderman, Harold & Das, Jishnu & Rao, Vijayendra, 2013. "Conducting ethical economic research: complications from the field," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6446, The World Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General


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