IS DISHONESTY CONTAGIOUS?

Authors

  • INNES ROBERT,

    1. Innes: Professor of Economics, Tony Coelho Chair of Public Policy, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, University of California, Merced, CA 95344. Phone 209-228-4872, Fax 209-228-4007, E-mail rinnes@ucmerced.edu
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  • MITRA ARNAB

    1. Mitra: Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Phone 734-764-6453, Fax 734-936-8715, E-mail arnabm@umich.com
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    • The authors thank the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for prescient comments on a prior version of this paper. We are indebted to Martin Dufwenberg and John List for their generous advice on this research; to Bruce Beattie, Dennis Cory, George Frisvold, Paul Wilson, Alex Whalley, Todd Neumann, Trevor Kollmann, Jennifer Pullen, and Jon Carlson for their generosity with class time; and to Gautam Gupta, Sanmitra Ghosh, Abhishek Das, Nilay Tikadar, Bijoy Sarkar, Daisy Paniagua, and Shannon Iraniha for their help in running experiments. We are also grateful to seminar participants at the University of Arizona, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Merced, NC State, Purdue, University of Nebraska, Cal Poly, and the University of Washington for a variety of helpful suggestions, particularly Subhasish Dugar and Chuck Knoeber. The usual disclaimer applies.


Abstract

When an individual believes that peers are predominantly untruthful in a given situation, is he/she more likely to be untruthful in that situation? We study this question in deception experiments patterned after Gneezy [Gneezy U. “Deception: The Role of Consequences.” American Economic Review, 95, 2005, 384–94] and conducted in Arizona, California, and India. We find evidence that dishonesty is indeed contagious. (JEL D03)

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