(Not) Alone in the World: Cheating in the Presence of a Virtual Observer
Mol, J.M., van der Heijden, E.C.M. & Potters, J.J.M. Exp Econ (2020). Doi.org/10.1007/s10683-020-09644-0
27 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2020
Date Written: January 14, 2020
We conducted an experiment in a high-immersive virtual reality environment to study the effect of the presence of a virtual observer on cheating behavior. Participants were placed in a virtual room and played 30 rounds of a cheating game without a chance of their cheating being detected. We varied whether or not a virtual observer (an avatar) was present in the room, and, if so, whether the avatar was actively staring at the decision maker or passively seated in a corner watching his smartphone. Results display significantly less cheating with an active than with a passive avatar, but not less cheating than in a control condition without an avatar. This suggests that the presence of an avatar can affect a decision maker in more ways than merely as a cue of social control.
Keywords: virtual reality experiment, cheating, watching eyes effect
JEL Classification: B41, C91, C93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation