(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

See all articles by Jantsje M. Mol

Jantsje M. Mol

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED)

Eline van der Heijden

Tilburg University, CentER

Johannes (Jan) J. M. Potters

Tilburg University - CentER

Date Written: January 14, 2020

Abstract

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

Mol, J. M. and van der Heijden, Eline and Potters, Johannes (Jan) J. M., (Not) Alone in the World: Cheating in the Presence of a Virtual Observer (January 14, 2020). Mol, J.M., van der Heijden, E.C.M. & Potters, J.J.M. Exp Econ (2020). Doi.org/10.1007/s10683-020-09644-0, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3267125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3267125

J. M. Mol (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED) ( email )

Netherlands

Eline Van der Heijden

Tilburg University, CentER ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Department of Economics
5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands

Johannes (Jan) J. M. Potters

Tilburg University - CentER ( email )

Department of Economics
P.O. Box 90153
5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands
+31 13 466 8204 (Phone)
+31 13 466 3042 (Fax)

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