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Luck or Cheating? A Field Experiment on Honesty with Children

Author

Listed:
  • Alessandro Bucciol

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We ran an experiment with children to study the development of honesty with age. We asked each child to toss a fair coin in private and to record the outcome (white or black) in a paper sheet. We rewarded only those who reported white. We found a fraction of reported whites signifi cantly larger than 50%, uniformly across age groups. This suggests that some children cheat when cheating is profi table and they are not observed. In a second treatment we told children not to cheat. This reminder reduced the probability of reporting white by 18% on average, and signifi cantly more in girls.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Bucciol & Marco Piovesan, 2008. "Luck or Cheating? A Field Experiment on Honesty with Children," Discussion Papers 08-28, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0828
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2008/0828.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    2. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2008. "Honesty on the Streets - A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," Working Papers 2009-24, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    3. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
    4. Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "White-Collar Crime Writ Small: A Case Study of Bagels, Donuts, and the Honor System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 290-294, May.
    5. Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2006. "Dishonesty in everyday life and its policy implications," Working Papers 06-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    6. Harbaugh, William T. & Krause, Kate & Vesterlund, Lise, 2007. "Learning to bargain," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 127-142, January.
    7. Wenzel, Michael, 2005. "Misperceptions of social norms about tax compliance: From theory to intervention," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 862-883, December.
    8. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
    9. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    honesty; children; fi eld experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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