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Size matters - when it comes to lies

  • Gerald Eisenkopf
  • Ruslan Gurtoviy
  • Verena Utikal

A small lie appears trivial but it obviously violates moral commandments. We analyze whether the preference for others� truth telling is absolute or depends on the size of a lie. In a laboratory experiment we compare punishment for different sizes of lies controlling for the resulting economic harm. We find that people are sensitive to the size of a lie and that this behavioral pattern is driven by honest people. People who lie themselves punish softly in any context.

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Paper provided by Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universit�t Konstanz in its series TWI Research Paper Series with number 66.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0066
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2007. "Enjoy the Silence: An Experiment on Truth-Telling," ESE Discussion Papers 155, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
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  15. Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Deception through telling the truth?! Experimental evidence from individuals and teams," Working Papers 2007-26, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  16. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  17. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  18. Croson, Rachel & Boles, Terry & Murnighan, J. Keith, 2003. "Cheap talk in bargaining experiments: lying and threats in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 143-159, June.
  19. Lundquist, Tobias & Ellingsen, Tore & Gribbe, Erik & Johannesson, Magnus, 2009. "The aversion to lying," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 81-92, May.
  20. Paul M. Romer, 1996. "Preferences, Promises, and the Politics of Entitlement," NBER Chapters, in: Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America, pages 195-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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