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Embezzlement and guilt aversion

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  • Giuseppe Attanasi

    () (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (... - 2019) - COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015 - 2019) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur)

  • Claire Rimbaud

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

Abstract

Psychological game theory can contribute to renew the analysis of unethical behavior by providing insights on the nature of the moral costs of dishonesty. We investigate the moral costs of embezzlement in situations where donors need intermediaries to transfer their donations to recipients and where donations can be embezzled before they reach the recipients. We design a novel three-player Embezzlement Mini-Game to study whether intermediaries in the laboratory suffer from guilt aversion and whether guilt aversion affects the decision to embezzle. We show that the proportion of guilt-averse intermediaries is the same irrespective of the direction of guilt and guilt aversion reduces embezzlement. Structural estimates indicate no difference in the effect of guilt aversion toward the donor and toward the recipient on intermediaries' behavior. This is striking as embezzlement affects the earnings of the recipient but not those of the donor. It shows that guilt aversion matters even when decisions have no direct monetary consequences. JEL code: C91

Suggested Citation

  • Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Embezzlement and guilt aversion," Post-Print halshs-02073561, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-02073561
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.02.002
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02073561
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2020. "Belief-Dependent Motivations and Psychological Game Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 8285, CESifo.
    2. Giuseppe Attanasi & Kene Boun My & Nikolaos Georgantzís & Miguel Ginés, 2019. "Strategic Ethics: Altruism without the Other-Regarding Confound," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 70(6), pages 967-998.
    3. Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2020. "Guilt Aversion in (New) Games: the Role of Vulnerability," GREDEG Working Papers 2020-15, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    4. Parra, Daniel & Muñoz-Herrera, Manuel & Palacio, Luis, 2019. "The limits of transparency as a means of reducing corruption," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Ethics and Behavioral Economics SP II 2019-401, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    5. Khalmetski, Kiryl, 2019. "Evasion of guilt in expert advice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 296-310.
    6. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2019. "Psychological Game Theory," Working Papers 646, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    7. Patel, Amrish & Smith, Alec, 2019. "Guilt and participation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 279-295.
    8. Daniel Parra & Manuel Munoz-Herrera & Luis Palacio, 2019. "The limits of transparency as a means of reducing corruption," Working Papers 20190026, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised May 2019.
    9. Cartwright, Edward, 2019. "A survey of belief-based guilt aversion in trust and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 430-444.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    experiment; Embezzlement; dishonesty; guilt aversion; psychological game theory;

    JEL classification:

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

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