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The Influence of Self and Social Image Concerns on Lying

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  • Bašic, Zvonimir

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Simone Quercia

    (University of Verona)

Abstract

We investigate the influence of self and social image concerns as potential sources of lying costs across two studies (n = 991). In Experiment 1, in a standard die-rolling paradigm, we exogenously manipulate self-awareness and observability, which direct the focus of a person on their private and public selves, respectively. We find that our self-awareness manipulation has no effect on overreporting in comparison to a control treatment, while our observability manipulation significantly decreases reports. In Experiment 2, we introduce a design that allows to compare the effects of self and social image concerns by directing the focus either on oneself or on an external observer while keeping constant the set of observers and their information. In line with the results from Experiment 1, people lie significantly less when their focus is on the external observer rather than on themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Bašic, Zvonimir & Simone Quercia, 2020. "The Influence of Self and Social Image Concerns on Lying," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2020_18, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised 07 Mar 2022.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2020_18
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    2. Dimant, Eugen, 2023. "Beyond average: A method for measuring the tightness, looseness, and polarization of social norms," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 233(C).
    3. Despoina Alempaki & Valeria Burdea & Daniel Read, 2023. "Deceptive Communication: Direct Lies vs. Ignorance, Partial-Truth and Silence," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 444, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    4. Feess, Eberhard & Kerzenmacher, Florian & Timofeyev, Yuriy, 2022. "Utilitarian or deontological models of moral behavior—What predicts morally questionable decisions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    5. Di Cagno, Daniela & Güth, Werner & Lohse, Tim & Marazzi, Francesca & Spadoni, Lorenzo, 2024. "Who cares when Value (Mis)reporting may be found out? An Acquiring-a-Company experiment with value messages and information leaks," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    6. Zakharov, Alexei, 2023. "Lying with heterogeneous image concerns," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 228(C).
    7. Ay, F. Ceren & Berge, Joel W. & Nødtvedt, Katrine B., 2024. "Strategic curiosity: An experimental study of curiosity and dishonesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 217(C), pages 287-297.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    truth-telling; lying; private information; self-image concerns; social image concerns;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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