Experimental evidence on deceitful communication: does everyone have a price ?

Abstract : This paper introduces a new task to elicit individual aversion to deceiving, defined as the lowest payoff for which an individual agrees to switch from faithful to deceitful communication. The core task is a modified version of the Deception Game as presented in Gneezy (Am. Econ. Rev. 95 (1): 384–395: 2005). Deceitful communication brings about a constant loss for the receiver, and a range of benefits for the sender. A multiple-price-list mechanism is used to determine the sender’s communication strategy contingent on the various benefits from deception. The results show that 71% of the subjects in the sender role will implement pure or threshold communication strategies. Among them, 40% appear to be process driven, being either "ethical" or "spiteful". The other 60% respond to incentives in line with the fixed cost of lying theory; they will forego faithful communication if the benefit from deceiving the other is large enough. Regression analysis shows that this reservation payoff¤ is independent of the risk aversion and social preferences of the subject; it would thus capture an inner preference for "behaving well".
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Radu Vranceanu, Delphine Dubart. Experimental evidence on deceitful communication: does everyone have a price ?. 2019. ⟨hal-01822814v2⟩

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