Deception in Networks: A Laboratory Study

19 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014 Last revised: 11 Dec 2014

See all articles by Rong Rong

Rong Rong

Weber State University (WSU)

Daniel Houser

Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Date Written: April 1, 2014


Communication between departments within a firm may include deception. Theory suggests that telling lies in these environments may be strategically optimal if there exists a small difference in monetary incentives (Crawford and Sobel, 1982; Galeotti et al, 2012). We design a laboratory experiment to investigate whether agents with different monetary incentives in a network environment behave according to theoretical predictions. We found that players’ choices are consistent with the theory. That is, most communication within an incentive group is truthful and deception often occurs between subjects from different groups. These results have important implications for intra-organizational conflict management, demonstrating that in order to minimize deceptive communication between departments the firm may need to reduce incentive differences between these groups.

Keywords: social networks, deception, strategic information transmission, experiments

JEL Classification: D85, D02, C92

Suggested Citation

Rong, Rong and Houser, Daniel, Deception in Networks: A Laboratory Study (April 1, 2014). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 14-41, Available at SSRN: or

Rong Rong (Contact Author)

Weber State University (WSU) ( email )

3802 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408
United States

Daniel Houser

Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science ( email )

5th Floor, Vernon Smith Hall
George Mason University
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
7039934856 (Phone)


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