Preferences for Truth-Telling

Johannes Abeler

University of Oxford

Daniele Nosenzo

University of Nottingham

Collin Raymond

Amherst College

September 27, 2016

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6087

Private information is at the heart of many economic activities. For decades, economists have assumed that individuals are willing to misreport private information if this maximizes their material payoff. We combine data from 72 experimental studies in economics, psychology and sociology, and show that, in fact, people lie surprisingly little. We then formalize a wide range of potential explanations for the observed behavior, identify testable predictions that can distinguish between the models and conduct new experiments to do so. None of the most popular explanations suggested in the literature can explain the data. We show that only combining a preference for being honest with a preference for being seen as honest can organize the empirical evidence.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 120

Keywords: private information, honesty, truth-telling, lying, meta study

JEL Classification: D03, D82, H26, I13, J31

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Date posted: November 9, 2016  

Suggested Citation

Abeler, Johannes and Nosenzo, Daniele and Raymond, Collin, Preferences for Truth-Telling (September 27, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6087. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2866381

Contact Information

Johannes Abeler (Contact Author)
University of Oxford ( email )
Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom
Daniele Nosenzo
University of Nottingham ( email )
University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom
Collin Raymond
Amherst College ( email )
P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
United States
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