Fishy Behavior: Evaluating Preferences for Honesty in the Marketplace

58 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2016

Date Written: February 1, 2016


The role of the market in shaping various forms of behavior is perhaps the fundamental issue facing behavioral economics today. This study conducts a field experiment in fish markets of Kolkata, India that are prone to widespread cheating by sellers and examines whether, and to what extent, intrinsic preferences for honesty influence outcomes in actual market transactions. Exploiting systematic exogenous variations in fish prices, an indicator of marginal economic benefit from cheating, the experiment uncovers an inverted U-shaped relationship between the fish price and the amount cheated. The results suggest that tastes for honesty can mitigate fraud in natural markets.

Keywords: Cheating, Markets, Field Experiment

JEL Classification: D82, C9

Suggested Citation

Dugar, Subhasish and Bhattacharya, Haimanti, Fishy Behavior: Evaluating Preferences for Honesty in the Marketplace (February 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Subhasish Dugar

University of Calgary ( email )

2500 University Drive, NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4

Haimanti Bhattacharya (Contact Author)

University of Utah ( email )

Department of Economics
1645 E Campus Center Drive, #308
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States


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