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Be close to me and I will be honest: How social distance influences honesty

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Listed:
  • Hermann, Daniel
  • Ostermaier, Andreas

Abstract

We conducted a laboratory experiment to examine how honesty depends on social distance. Participants cast dice and reported the outcomes to allocate money between themselves and fellow students or the socially distant experimenter. They could lie about outcomes to earn more money. We found that dishonesty increases with social distance. However, responsiveness to social distance depends on personal preferences about inequity and honesty as a moral value. We observed selfish "black lies" but not altruistic "white lies" (outcomes were not understated to reduce inequality). Our results suggest that the reduction of social distance can promote honesty in social interactions.

Suggested Citation

  • Hermann, Daniel & Ostermaier, Andreas, 2018. "Be close to me and I will be honest: How social distance influences honesty," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 340, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:340
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cheating; honesty; social distance; experiment;

    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
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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