Malleability of Preferences for Honesty

38 Pages Posted: 1 May 2021

See all articles by Johannes Abeler

Johannes Abeler

University of Oxford

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Fabian Kosse

University of Würzburg; Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

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Reporting private information is a key part of economic decision making. A recent literature has found that many people have a preference for honest reporting, contrary to usual economic assumptions. In this paper, we investigate whether preferences for honesty are malleable and what determines them. We experimentally measure preferences for honesty in a sample of children. As our main result, we provide causal evidence on the effect of the social environment by randomly enrolling children in a year-long mentoring programme. We find that, about four years after the end of the programme, mentored children are significantly more honest.

JEL Classification: C90, D90, D64, D82, H26, J13

Suggested Citation

Abeler, Johannes and Falk, Armin and Kosse, Fabian, Malleability of Preferences for Honesty. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14304, Available at SSRN: or

Johannes Abeler (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom
+44 1865 281440 (Phone)

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area ( email )

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5-9
Bonn, 53113


Fabian Kosse

University of Würzburg ( email )

Sanderring 2
Würzburg, D-97070

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539

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