Lying to Be Fair

40 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2016

See all articles by Gönül Doğan

Gönül Doğan

University of Cologne

Rikstje Roggema

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)

Date Written: March 2, 2016


One of the main arguments people use for cheating is that others also do it. Cheating becomes a tool for establishing fairness when others cheat. Using different payoff schemes, we experimentally investigate whether varying who can lie matters for one’s lying. In a real effort task that measures analytical ability, we find that varying who lies does not affect lying rates in any of the payoff schemes we employ. We find low rates of lying in the piece-rate and proportional earnings payoff schemes, and no lying in the tournament. We further study beliefs about others’ ability and fairness considerations. We observe two effects independent of lying: Own ability correlates with beliefs about the others’ ability, and higher ability people consider unequal outcomes to be fairer compared to low ability people.

Keywords: cheating, reciprocity, competition, experiment

JEL Classification: C92, D63, J31

Suggested Citation

Doğan, Gönül and Roggema, Rikstje, Lying to Be Fair (March 2, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Gönül Doğan (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

Rikstje Roggema

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB

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