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Size Matters - When it Comes to Lies

  • Gerald Eisenkopf

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz, Germany)

  • Ruslan Gurtoviy

    ()

    (Department of Business Administration, University of Trier, Germany)

  • Verena Utikal

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)

A small lie appears trivial but it obviously violates moral commandments. We analyze whether the preference for others’ truth telling is absolute or depends on the size of a lie. In a laboratory experiment we compare punishment for different sizes of lies controlling for the resulting economic harm. We find that people are sensitive to the size of a lie and that this behavioural pattern is driven by honest people. People who lie themselves punish softly in any context.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Konstanz in its series Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz with number 2011-14.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 17 May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:knz:dpteco:1114
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  1. Croson, Rachel & Boles, Terry & Murnighan, J. Keith, 2003. "Cheap talk in bargaining experiments: lying and threats in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 143-159, June.
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  10. Paul M. Romer, 1996. "Preferences, Promises, and the Politics of Entitlement," NBER Chapters, in: Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America, pages 195-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Marc Vorsatz, 2004. "An Experimental Study of Truth-Telling in a Sender-Receiver Game," ESE Discussion Papers 128, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  15. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2003. "Truth or Consequences: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 116-130, January.
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  17. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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