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Loss Aversion and lying behavior: Theory, estimation and empirical evidence

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  • Ellen Garbarino

    (University of Sydney Business School, Department of Marketing, Abercrombie building, NSW 2006 Sydney, Australia)

  • Robert Slonim

    (University of Sydney, Department of Economics, Merewether building, NSW 2006 Sydney, Australia; IZA, Bonn, Germany)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    (Univ Lyon, Université Lyon 2, GATE L-SE UMR 5824, F-69342 Lyon, France)

Abstract

We theoretically show that agents with loss-averse preferences are more likely to lie to avoid receiving a financially bad outcome the lower the probability of this bad outcome. The increased dishonesty occurs due to the expected payoff increasing as the bad outcome becomes less likely, and hence the greater the loss that can be avoided by lying. We demonstrate robust support for this role of loss aversion on lying by reanalyzing the results from the extant literature covering 74 studies and 363 treatments, and from two new experiments that vary the outcome probabilities and examine lying for personal gain and for gains to causes one supports or opposes. To measure and compare lying behavior across treatments and studies, we develop an empirical method that estimates the full distribution of dishonesty when agents privately observe the outcome of a random process and can misreport what they observed.

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  • Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Marie Claire Villeval, 2016. "Loss Aversion and lying behavior: Theory, estimation and empirical evidence," Working Papers 1631, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
  • Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:1631
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    1. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    2. Dufwenberg, Martin & Dufwenberg, Martin A., 2018. "Lies in disguise – A theoretical analysis of cheating," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 248-264.
    3. Geraldes, Diogo & Heinicke, Franziska & Rosenkranz, Stephanie, 2019. "Lying in Two Dimensions and Moral Spillovers," MPRA Paper 96640, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    5. Feess, Eberhard & Kerzenmacher, Florian, 2018. "Lying opportunities and incentives to lie: Reference dependence versus reputation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 274-288.
    6. Ariely, Dan & Garcia-Rada, Ximena & Gödker, Katrin & Hornuf, Lars & Mann, Heather, 2019. "The impact of two different economic systems on dishonesty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 179-195.
    7. D.J. da Cunha Batista Geraldes & Franziska Heinicke & S. Rosenkranz, 2021. "Lying in Two Dimensions," Working Papers 2101, Utrecht School of Economics.

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    Keywords

    Gender; loss aversion; dishonesty; econometric estimation; experimental economics; lying;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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