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The Mind Game: Invisible Cheating and Inferable Intentions

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  • Ting Jiang

Abstract

This paper exploits a novel cheating game - the “Mind Game” - to show how a subtle variation in the rules of the game affects cheating. In both variants of the game, cheating is invisible because subjects make their choices purely in their minds. The only difference rests on the order of the steps in which subjects should play the game. I find that subjects cheat significantly less when they have to disregard the prescribed order of steps in order to cheat, compare to when they can purely lie about the choice made in the mind. Since subjects play the game in private with a double-blind payment procedure, I conjecture that subjects only cheat to the extent that their moral self-image is still preserved. But the moral image can be preserved if they can deceive themselves into believing that at least their intentions are good, and not if cheating requires an act that reveals the intent to cheat. This study thus suggests a potential role of intent inference in deterring cheating.

Suggested Citation

  • Ting Jiang, 2012. "The Mind Game: Invisible Cheating and Inferable Intentions," LICOS Discussion Papers 30912, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:30912
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    File URL: http://feb.kuleuven.be/drc/licos/publications/dp/dp309.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Mead, N.L. & Baumeister, R.F. & Gino, F. & Schweitzer, M.E. & Ariely, D., 2009. "Too tired to tell the truth : Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty," Other publications TiSEM c60167a3-c3aa-4b83-9192-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    3. Houser, Daniel & Vetter, Stefan & Winter, Joachim, 2012. "Fairness and cheating," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1645-1655.
    4. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li Hao & Daniel Houser, 2013. "Perceptions, Intentions, and Cheating," Working Papers 1039, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Feb 2013.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cheating; intent; self-deception; moral self-image; the mind game;

    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
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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