It's Not A Lie if You Believe the Norm Does Not Apply: Conditional Norm-Following with Strategic Beliefs
57 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019 Last revised: 9 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 9, 2020
We experimentally investigate the mechanisms with which strategic distortion of individual beliefs about dominant norms of honesty arise. Embedded in the context of lying, we systematically vary both the nature of elicited beliefs (descriptive about what others do, or normative about what others approve of) and a subject's anticipation of an forthcoming lying opportunity at the belief-formation stage. We show that not all belief distortions are created equal and our empirical findings are consistent with the predictions of a dual-self model in which conditional norm-followers strategically distort their beliefs to justify self-serving behavior. Taken together, we show why, when, and what norm-relevant beliefs are strategically distorted and discuss the managerial implications of our findings.
Keywords: Lying, Social Norms, Strategic Beliefs, Uncertainty
JEL Classification: C72, C91, D8, D9
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation