I Lie? We Lie! Why? Experimental Evidence on a Dishonesty Shift in Groups

43 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2016

See all articles by Martin G. Kocher

Martin G. Kocher

University of Vienna

Simeon Schudy

Ulm University; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Lisa Spantig

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Date Written: July 27, 2016

Abstract

Unethical behavior such as dishonesty, cheating and corruption occurs frequently in organizations or groups. Recent experimental evidence suggests that there is a stronger inclination to behave immorally in groups than individually. We ask if this is the case, and if so, why. Using a parsimonious laboratory setup, we study how individual behavior changes when deciding as a group member. We observe a strong dishonesty shift. This shift is mainly driven by communication within groups and turns out to be independent of whether group members face payoff commonality or not (i.e. whether other group members benefit from one’s lie). Group members come up with and exchange more arguments for being dishonest than for complying with the norm of honesty. Thereby, group membership shifts the perception of the validity of the honesty norm and of its distribution in the population.

Keywords: dishonesty, lying, group decisions, communication, norms, experiment

JEL Classification: C910, C920, D030

Suggested Citation

Kocher, Martin G. and Schudy, Simeon and Spantig, Lisa, I Lie? We Lie! Why? Experimental Evidence on a Dishonesty Shift in Groups (July 27, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2828600

Martin G. Kocher

University of Vienna ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna, Vienna 1090
Austria

Simeon Schudy

Ulm University ( email )

Albert-Einstein-Alee 11
Ulm, D-89081
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Lisa Spantig (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

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