IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Enjoy the Silence: An Experiment on Truth-Telling

We analyze experimentally two sender-receiver games with conflictive preferences. In the first game, the sender can choose to tell the truth, to lie, or to remain silent. The latter strategy is costly and similar to an outside option. If sent, the receiver can either trust or distrust the sender's message. In the second game, the receiver must decide additionally whether or not to costly punish the sender after having observed the history of the game. We investigate the existence of two kinds of social preferences: Lie-aversion and preference for truth-telling. In the first game, senders tell the truth more often than predicted by the sequential equilibrium concept, they remain silent frequently, and there exists a positive correlation between the probability of being truthful and the probability of remaining silent. Our main experimental result for the extended game shows that those subjects who punish the sender with a high probability after being deceived are precisely those who send fewer but more truthful messages. We then explore two formal models of the baseline game that can account for our experimental results. First, we fit the data to the logit agent quantal response equilibrium; secondly, we solve for the Perfect Bayesian Nash equilibria of a stylized version of the baseline game with two types of senders. The equilibrium predictions obtained in both cases are consistent with both preferences for truth-telling and lie-aversion although the latter seems to be more pronounced.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 155.

in new window

Length: 36
Date of creation: 19 Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:155
Contact details of provider: Postal:
31 Buccleuch Place, EH8 9JT, Edinburgh

Phone: +44(0)1316508361
Fax: +44(0)1316504514
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

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. Ingela Alger & Regis Renault, 2003. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Keep their Word," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 562, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.
  2. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 745-780, July.
  3. Costa-Gomes, Miguel & Crawford, Vincent P & Broseta, Bruno, 2001. "Cognition and Behavior in Normal-Form Games: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1193-1235, September.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  7. Vincent P. Crawford, 2003. "Lying for Strategic Advantage: Rational and Boundedly Rational Misrepresentation of Intentions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 133-149, March.
  8. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-26, December.
  9. Cai, Hongbin & Wang, Joseph Tao-Yi, 2006. "Overcommunication in strategic information transmission games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 7-36, July.
  10. Sjaak Hurkens & Navin Kartik, 2009. "Would I lie to you? On social preferences and lying aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 180-192, June.
  11. John W. Dickhaut & Kevin A. McCabe & Arijit Mukherji, 1995. "An experimental study of strategicinformation transmission," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 6(3), pages 389-403.
  12. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  13. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Marc Vorsatz, 2004. "An Experimental Study of Truth-Telling in a Sender-Receiver Game," ESE Discussion Papers 128, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  14. Sjaak Hurkens & Navin Kartik, 2006. "(When) Would I Lie To You? Comment on ?Deception: The Role of Consequences?," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 664.06, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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:edn:esedps:155. 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: (Gina Reddie)

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.