The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology

CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 191

36 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2009

See all articles by Andreas Ortmann

Andreas Ortmann

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics

Ralph Hertwig

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 1, 2001

Abstract

Recently, it has been argued that the evidence in social science research suggests that deceiving subjects in an experiment does not lead to a significant loss of experimental control. Based on this assessment, experimental economists were counseled to lift their de facto prohibition against deception to capture its potential benefits. To the extent that this recommendation is derived from empirical studies, we argue that it draws on a selective sample of the available evidence. Building on a systematic review of relevant research in psychology, we present two major results: First, the evidence suggests that the experience of having been deceived generates suspicion which in turn is likely to affect judgment and decision making of a non-negligible number of participants. Second, we find little evidence for reputational spillover effects that have been hypothesized by a number of authors in psychology and economics (e.g., Kelman, 1967; Davis and Holt, 1993). Based on a discussion of the methodological costs and benefits of deception, we conclude that experimental economists. prohibition of deception is a sensible convention that economists should not abandon.

Keywords: Experimental economics, deception, reputational spillover effects

JEL Classification: C72, C91

Suggested Citation

Ortmann, Andreas and Hertwig, Ralph, The Costs of Deception: Evidence from Psychology (December 1, 2001). CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 191, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1502853 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1502853

Andreas Ortmann (Contact Author)

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Ralph Hertwig

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
D-14195 Berlin, 14195
Germany

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