Lying for Efficiency or Fairness?

45 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021

See all articles by Jaimie W. Lien

Jaimie W. Lien

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Decision Sciences & Managerial Economics

Jinglan Zhang

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

Jie Zheng

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Date Written: March 31, 2020

Abstract

The lies of individuals holding positions of influence in society can result in significant consequences for the distribution of resources. A relationship between lying behavior and social preferences has often been proposed in explaining patterns of lying aversion. However, studies have seldom directly examined the relationship between different types of social preferences and the corresponding lying behaviors. We assess individuals’ preferences over social allocations along with their lying tendencies in the analogous scenarios, using a novel multinomial version of a ‘mind cheating game’, which allows different degrees of lying and is independent of social image and reputation concerns. Our study allows us to observe how preferences over fairness and efficiency are associated with the willingness to lie for one’s self and others. Selfish and spiteful lies are prevalent among those with strong spiteful preferences in the allocation task, while those subjects with efficiency-oriented preferences tend to tell efficient lies on behalf of others. However, among those with a strong preference for fairness in allocations with own-payoff consequence, lying on behalf of fairness concerns is less apparent. Altogether, the empirical patterns suggest that individuals with a strong preference for efficiency in such scenarios are more likely to lie for fairness concerns, while those with a strong fairness preference may be more likely to lie out of self-interest.

Keywords: lying, social preference, efficiency, fairness, spite

JEL Classification: D01, D31, D91

Suggested Citation

Lien, Jaimie W. and Zhang, Jinglan and Zheng, Jie, Lying for Efficiency or Fairness? (March 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3584066 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3584066

Jaimie W. Lien (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Decision Sciences & Managerial Economics ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Jinglan Zhang

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA

Jie Zheng

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

HOME PAGE: http://jzheng.weebly.com/

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