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On the Origins of Dishonesty: from Parents to Children

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Houser
  • John List
  • Marco Piovesan
  • Anya Samek
  • Joachim Winter

Abstract

Acts of dishonesty permeate life. Understanding their origins, and what mechanisms help to attenuate such acts is an under explored area of research. This study takes an economics approach to explore the propensity of individuals to act dishonestly across different economic environments. We begin by developing a simple model that highlights the channels through which one can increase or decrease dishonest acts. We lend empirical insights into this model by using an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child rather than the parent. In this spirit, there is also an interesting effect of children on parents' behavior: in the child's presence, parents act more honestly, but there are gender differences. Parents act more dishonestly in front of sons than daughters. This finding has the potential of shedding light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Houser & John List & Marco Piovesan & Anya Samek & Joachim Winter, 2015. "On the Origins of Dishonesty: from Parents to Children," Artefactual Field Experiments 00449, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00449
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Roland, G�rard & Yang, David, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," CEPR Discussion Papers 12053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Gerard Roland & David Y. Yang, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," NBER Working Papers 23441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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