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Dishonesty: From Parents to Children

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Houser

    (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • John List

    (Department of Economics, University of Chicago)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Anya Samek

    (Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California)

  • Joachim Winter

    (Department of Economics, University of Munich)

Abstract

Acts of dishonesty permeate life. Understanding their origins, and what mechanisms help to attenuate such acts is an underexplored area of research. This study takes an economics approach to explore the propensity of individuals to act dishonestly across different contexts. We conduct an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects, exploring the roles of moral cost and scrutiny on dishonest behavior. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child. In this spirit, there is also an interesting, quite different, effect of children on parents’ behavior: parents act more honestly under the scrutiny of daughters than under the scrutiny of sons. This finding sheds new light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults, where a typical result is that females are more honest than males. Length: 48

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Houser & John List & Marco Piovesan & Anya Samek & Joachim Winter, 2015. "Dishonesty: From Parents to Children," Working Papers 1054, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1054
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cheating; dishonesty; ethical judgment; social utility; field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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