Gamba S. (2018).

Battiston, P., Gamba S., Rizzolli, M.; Rotondi, V.(2018).

Lies have long legs. Cheating, public scrutiny and loyalty in teams, Econometica Working Paper 67, Econometica.



Do people cheat more if it helps their team? Does this behavior change when their actions are disclosed to their peers? To answer these questions, we run a lab-in-the-field experiment with girl scouts and boy scouts during their summer camps. Scout troops are organized in patrols: these are thus naturally occurring and persistent teams, which undertake many different activities and own common goods; moreover, loyalty is salient. We implement a variation of a standard cheating task, in which cheating behavior by an individual scout could i) either be kept private or disclosed to other members of their patrol; and ii) imply the release of an individual voucher to be spent on individual goods or a team voucher to be spent on collective goods for the patrol. While we find a very low overall level of cheating, our results show that people cheat more frequently when their decision is disclosed to their team and not kept private. On the other hand, no significant difference is observed when cheating rewards the team rather than the individual.

Keywords: Lying; deception; cheating; public scrutiny; social image; adolescents; children; scouts; loyalty; experiments; behavioral economics

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