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Luck or Cheating? A Field Experiment on Honesty with Children

  • Alessandro Bucciol

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

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.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2008/0828.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-28.

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Length: 10 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0828
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  1. Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions. on the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Artefactual Field Experiments 00109, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. 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.
  3. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Harbaugh, William T. & Krause, Kate & Vesterlund, Lise, 2007. "Learning to bargain," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 127-142, January.
  6. 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.
  7. Gerald J. Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2009. "Honesty on the Streets: A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," NRN working papers 2009-24, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  8. Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2006. "Dishonesty in everyday life and its policy implications," Working Papers 06-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  9. 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.
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