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Unethical Behavior and Group Identity in Contests

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  • Julien Benistant

    (Univ Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon 2, GATE L-SE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    (Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE L-SE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France)

Abstract

Using a real-effort experiment, we study whether group identity affects unethical behavior in a contest game. We vary whether minimal group identity is induced or not, whether individuals have to report their own outcome or the outcome of their competitor, and whether pairs of competitors share the same group identity or not. We show that individuals misreport in the same proportion and to the same extent by inflating their outcome or by decreasing their opponent’s outcome, except when any possible scrutiny by the experimenter is removed. Regardless of the possibility of scrutiny by the experimenter, misreporting is affected neither by the competitor’s group identity nor by the individual’s beliefs about others’ misreporting behavior. This suggests that in competitive settings, unethical behavior is mainly driven by an unconditional desire to win.

Suggested Citation

  • Julien Benistant & Marie Claire Villeval, 2017. "Unethical Behavior and Group Identity in Contests," Working Papers 1725, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
  • Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:1725
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    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. Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Comportements (non) éthiques et stratégies morales," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 70(6), pages 1021-1046.
    6. Simon Dato & Petra Nieken, 2020. "Gender differences in sabotage: the role of uncertainty and beliefs," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(2), pages 353-391, June.
    7. Simon Piest & Philipp Schreck, 2021. "Contests and unethical behavior in organizations: a review and synthesis of the empirical literature," Management Review Quarterly, Springer, vol. 71(4), pages 679-721, October.
    8. Necker, Sarah & Paetzel, Fabian, 2023. "The effect of losing and winning on cheating and effort in repeated competitions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    9. Dato, Simon & Feess, Eberhard & Nieken, Petra, 2019. "Lying and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 193-218.
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    11. Benistant, Julien & Galeotti, Fabio & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2021. "The Distinct Impact of Information and Incentives on Cheating," IZA Discussion Papers 14014, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. (Charlie) Chen, Zhuoqiong & Ong, David & Sheremeta, Roman, 2022. "Competition between and within universities: Theoretical and experimental investigation of group identity and the desire to win," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
    13. Chua, Scott Lee & Chang, Jessica & Riambau, Guillem, 2022. "Lying behavior when payoffs are shared with charity: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
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    15. Feess, Eberhard & Kerzenmacher, Florian & Timofeyev, Yuriy, 2022. "Utilitarian or deontological models of moral behavior—What predicts morally questionable decisions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lying; sabotage; group identity; competition; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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