Determinants and malleability of truth-telling preferences

  • Date: Jan 23, 2019
  • Time: 17:00
  • Speaker: Johannes Abeler
  • University of Oxford
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Ground Floor

Situations of private information are ubiquitous. A recent experimental literature has challenged the usual economic assumption that people always report whatever maximizes their material payoff. Instead, many people seem to have preferences for truth-telling, and thus only lie a little or not at all. In this paper, we investigate what determines these preferences and how malleable they are. We measure preferences for truth-telling in a sample of children using the Fischbacher-Föllmi-Heusi paradigm. We first document several correlations between a child’s reporting behaviour and their parents’ characteristics. We then demonstrate that it is possible to change preferences for truth-telling. We randomly assign children to a year-long mentoring program. We find that, almost four years after the end of the mentoring program, mentored children lie significantly less.

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