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Bad boys: how criminal identity salience affects rule violation

Author

Listed:
  • Alain Cohn
  • Michel André Maréchal
  • Thomas Noll

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal & Thomas Noll, 2013. "Bad boys: how criminal identity salience affects rule violation," ECON - Working Papers 132, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised May 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:132
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dishonesty; identity; crime; prison; experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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