Understanding Honesty: An Experiment Regarding Heterogeneous Responses to Situational Social Norms
48 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014
Date Written: March 2014
We conduct a laboratory experiment in which we expose participants to situational social norms of approval or disapproval of lying. Participants conform to the situational pressure, but there are important differences in individual reactions. We collect data on a number of individual characteristics, including proxies for intrinsic costs of lying (ICOL). Because different ICOL proxies tap into different motives for honesty, the extent of the interaction of these proxies with situational norms and with economic incentives sheds new light on why people act more truthfully than predicted by standard economic models. This analysis also helps to determine which characteristics explain individuals resistance to situational norms.
Keywords: Conformity, Honesty, Pro-social concern, Protected values, Self-signaling, Situational social norms
JEL Classification: C91, G02, G30, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation