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Bribery: Behavioral Drivers of Distorted Decisions

77 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2016 Last revised: 18 Jan 2018

Uri Gneezy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Silvia Saccardo

Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Roel van Veldhuizen

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Date Written: January 1, 2018

Abstract

We experimentally investigate behavioral drivers of bribery, focusing on the role of self- interest, reciprocity, and moral costs associated with distorting judgment. In our experiment, two participants compete for a prize; a referee picks the winner. Participants can bribe the referee. When the referee can keep only the winner’s bribe, bribes distort her judgment. When the referee keeps the bribes regardless of the winner, bribes no longer influence her decision. A field experiment in an Indian market confirms these results. These findings imply that our participants are influenced by bribes out of self-interest, and not because of a desire to reciprocate. Further evidence shows that self-interest guides decisions to a greater extent when referees have scope for avoiding the moral costs associated with distorting judgment. As a result, limiting referees’ ability to form self-serving evaluations can significantly reduce the effectiveness of bribes.

Keywords: Bribery, Corruption, Reciprocity, Moral Costs, Motivated Beliefs

JEL Classification: D73, C91, K42

Suggested Citation

Gneezy, Uri and Saccardo, Silvia and van Veldhuizen, Roel, Bribery: Behavioral Drivers of Distorted Decisions (January 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2803623 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2803623

Uri Gneezy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Silvia Saccardo (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Roel Van Veldhuizen

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

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