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Bad boys: how criminal identity salience affects rule violation

  • Alain Cohn
  • Michel André Maréchal
  • Thomas Noll

We conducted an experiment with 182 inmates from a maximum security prison to analyze the impact of criminal identity salience on cheating. The results show that inmates cheat more when we exogenously render their criminal identity more salient. This effect is specific to individuals who have a criminal identity, because an additional placebo experiment shows that regular citizens do not become more dishonest in response to crime-related reminders. Moreover, our experimental measure of cheating correlates with inmates' offenses against in-prison regulation. Together, these findings suggest that criminal identity salience plays a crucial role in rule violating behavior.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 132.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision: May 2015
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:132
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