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Evasive Lying in Strategic Communication

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  • Kiryl Khalmetski
  • Bettina Rockenbach
  • Peter Werner

Abstract

Information asymmetries in economic transactions are omnipresent and a regular source of fraudulent behavior. In a theoretical and an experimental analysis of a sender-receiver game we investigate whether sanctions for lying induce more truthtelling. The novel aspect in our model is that senders may not only choose between truth-telling and (explicit) lying, but may also engage in evasive lying by credibly pretending not to know. While we find that sanctions promote truth-telling when senders cannot engage in evasive lying, this is no longer true when evasive lying is possible. Then, explicit lying is largely substituted by evasive lying, which completely eliminates the otherwise positive effect of sanctions on the rate of truthtelling. As outlined in our model, the necessary prerequisite for such an ‘erosion’ effect is that evasive lying is perceived as sufficiently less psychologically costly than direct lying. Our results clearly demonstrate the limitations of sanctioning lying to counteract the exploitation of informational asymmetries and may explain the empirical evidence from the finance industry that sanctions for financial misconduct eventually appear to be not very efficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiryl Khalmetski & Bettina Rockenbach & Peter Werner, 2017. "Evasive Lying in Strategic Communication," Working Paper Series in Economics 92, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kls:series:0092
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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