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Blurring the lines: Strategic deception and self-deception in markets


  • Gruss, Laura
  • Piotti, Geny


Building on the results of a participant observation in a Chinese IT-sector company located in the northern part of China, this paper aims to clarify the nature of deception in markets. Contrary to the position of information economics and game theoretical approaches to trust, the paper argues that deception is not reducible to a question of opportunism or sending signals in order to create trustworthiness. Deception, in fact, may coexist and even be strictly entangled with self-deception, which builds on the conception of an agent whose rationality can fail or whose cognition can be biased. This paper argues that rationality failures and cognitive biases are not driven by psychological mechanisms alone. They have to be related to the social structure in which economic actors operate. In particular, the paper focuses on anticipatory socialization as one source of self-deception and the deception of others. Both types of deception are associated with a gap between aspirations and the available resources necessary for attaining them.

Suggested Citation

  • Gruss, Laura & Piotti, Geny, 2010. "Blurring the lines: Strategic deception and self-deception in markets," MPIfG Discussion Paper 10/13, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cecilia Chaing & Lindsay McSweeney, 2010. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 6.
    2. Beckert, Jens, 2005. "Trust and the Performative Construction of Markets," MPIfG Discussion Paper 05/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    3. Higgins, Richard S & Rubin, Paul H, 1986. "Counterfeit Goods," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 211-230, October.
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