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On the Origins of Dishonesty: From Parents to Children

Author

Listed:
  • Houser, Daniel

    (George Mason University)

  • List, John A.

    (University of Chicago)

  • Piovesan, Marco

    (University of Copenhagen)

  • Samek, Anya

    (University of Southern California)

  • Winter, Joachim

    (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 economic environments. We begin by developing a simple model that highlights the channels through which one can increase or decrease dishonest acts. We lend empirical insights into this model by using an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child rather than the parent. In this spirit, there is also an interesting effect of children on parents' behavior: in the child's presence, parents act more honestly, but there are gender differences. Parents act more dishonestly in front of sons than daughters. This finding has the potential of shedding light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Houser, Daniel & List, John A. & Piovesan, Marco & Samek, Anya & Winter, Joachim, 2015. "On the Origins of Dishonesty: From Parents to Children," IZA Discussion Papers 8906, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8906
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The origins of dishonesty
      by noname in ZeeConomics on 2015-04-12 20:36:38

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    Cited by:

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    2. repec:zbw:bofitp:011 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gerard Roland & David Y. Yang, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," NBER Working Papers 23441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michalis Drouvelis & Graeme Pearce, 2021. "Understanding the Link between Intelligence and Lying," CESifo Working Paper Series 9223, CESifo.
    5. Gerard Roland & David Y. Yang, 2017. "China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission," NBER Working Papers 23441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Roland, Gerard & Yang, David Y., 2019. "China's lost generation: Changes in beliefs and their intergenerational transmission," BOFIT Discussion Papers 11/2019, Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT).
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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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