Econometrica: Jul 2019, Volume 87, Issue 4

Preferences for Truth-telling

https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA14673
p. 1115-1153

Johannes Abeler, Daniele Nosenzo, Collin Raymond

Private information is at the heart of many economic activities. For decades, economists have assumed that individuals are willing to misreport private information if this maximizes their material payoff. We combine data from 90 experimental studies in economics, psychology, and sociology, and show that, in fact, people lie surprisingly little. We then formalize a wide range of potential explanations for the observed behavior, identify testable predictions that can distinguish between the models, and conduct new experiments to do so. Our empirical evidence suggests that a preference for being seen as honest and a preference for being honest are the main motivations for truth‐telling.



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