Clever Enough to Tell the Truth

41 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2015 Last revised: 3 Mar 2016

See all articles by Bradley J. Ruffle

Bradley J. Ruffle

McMaster University

Yossef Tobol

The Jerusalem College of Technology; The Carmel Academic Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 29, 2016


We conduct a field experiment on 427 Israeli soldiers who each rolled a six-sided die in private and reported the outcome. For every point reported, the soldier received an additional half-hour early release from the army base on Thursday afternoon. We find that the higher a soldier’s military entrance score, the more honest he is on average. We replicate this finding on a sample of 156 civilians paid in cash for their die reports. Furthermore, the civilian experiments reveal that two measures of cognitive ability predict honesty, whereas general self-report honesty questions and a consistency check among them are of no value. We provide a rationale for the relationship between cognitive ability and honesty and discuss its generalizability.

Keywords: honesty, cognitive ability, soldiers, high non-monetary stakes

JEL Classification: C93, M51

Suggested Citation

Ruffle, Bradley J. and Tobol, Yossef, Clever Enough to Tell the Truth (February 29, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Bradley J. Ruffle (Contact Author)

McMaster University ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M4

HOME PAGE: http://

Yossef Tobol

The Jerusalem College of Technology ( email )



The Carmel Academic Center ( email )


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