When do we lie?
By Alexander W. Cappelen, Erik Ø. Sørensen, and Bertil Tungodden
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2013
The paper reports from an experiment studying how the aversion to lying is affected by non-economic dimensions of the choice situation. Specifically, we study whether people are more or less likely to lie when the content of the lie is personal, when they base decisions on intuition, and when they are in a market context. We also study how aversion to lying depends on personal characteristics, including age, gender, cognitive ability, personality and social preferences. Our main finding is that non-economic aspects of the choice situation are crucial in understanding aversion to lying. In particular, we find that people are less likely to lie when the content of the message is personal. We also find large effects from priming the participants to rely on intuition, but, interestingly, in this case the effect only applies to males. Finally, we find that people who are highly motivated by social preferences are more averse to lying, but there is no significant relationship between lying behavior and other personal characteristics.