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Preferences for Truth-Telling

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  • Abeler, Johannes

    () (University of Oxford)

  • Nosenzo, Daniele

    () (University of Nottingham)

  • Raymond, Collin

    () (Amherst College)

Abstract

Private information is at the heart of many economic activities. For decades, economists have assumed that individuals are willing to misreport private information if this maximizes their material payoff. We combine data from 72 experimental studies in economics, psychology and sociology, and show that, in fact, people lie surprisingly little. We then formalize a wide range of potential explanations for the observed behavior, identify testable predictions that can distinguish between the models and conduct new experiments to do so. None of the most popular explanations suggested in the literature can explain the data. We show that only combining a preference for being honest with a preference for being seen as honest can organize the empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Abeler, Johannes & Nosenzo, Daniele & Raymond, Collin, 2016. "Preferences for Truth-Telling," IZA Discussion Papers 10188, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10188
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    Keywords

    private information; honesty; truth-telling; lying; meta study;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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