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Lies in Disguise. An experimental study on cheating

  • Urs Fischbacher
  • Franziska Heusi

In this paper we present a new design which allows us to draw inferences on the distribution of lying behavior among the population. Participants received a dice in order to determine their payoff anonymously. Whatever they reported to have rolled, they received as payoff. 39% of the subjects were honest and maximally 22% of them were lying completely. Interestingly we found subjects who lied but who did not maximize their income by doing so. Using additional experiments, we can show that a compelling explanation for this behavior is the desire to maintain a favorable self-concept, including honesty and non-greediness.

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Paper provided by Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universit�t Konstanz in its series TWI Research Paper Series with number 40.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0040
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  1. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
  2. Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-83, December.
  3. repec:att:wimass:9610 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Gerald Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2006. "Trust on the Streets: A Natural Field Experiment on Newspaper Purchasing," Discussion Papers 06-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  7. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
  8. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  9. James Alm & Michael McKee, 1998. "Extending the lessons of laboratory experiments on tax compliance to managerial and decision economics," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 259-275.
  10. Gerald Pruckner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2006. "A natural field experiment on newspaper purchasing," Natural Field Experiments 00320, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
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