Preferences for Truthfulness: Heterogeneity Among and Within Individuals
University of Geneva - Graduate School of Business (HEC-Geneva); Swiss Finance Institute
University of Zurich - Department of Psychology
Alexander F. Wagner
University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance; Harvard University; Swiss Finance Institute; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
April 10, 2012
American Economic Review, 2013, vol. 103, pp. 532-548
Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 08-48
We conduct an experiment assessing the extent to which people trade off the economic costs of truthfulness against the intrinsic costs of lying. The results allow us to reject a type-based model. People's preferences for truthfulness do not identify them as only either "economic types" (who care only about consequences) or "ethical types" (who care only about process). Instead, we find that preferences for truthfulness are heterogeneous among individuals. Moreover, when examining possible sources of intrinsic costs of lying and their interplay with economic costs of truthfulness, we find that preferences for truthfulness are also heterogeneous within individuals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Ethics, incentives, protected values, social norms, earnings management, truthfulness, honesty
JEL Classification: A13, C91, G30, M14Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 6, 2009 ; Last revised: June 3, 2013
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