Maggian V., Galeotti F., Villevan M. C. (2019).

Fraud Deterrence Institutions Reduce Intrinsic Honesty. SSRN Electronic Journal



Deterrence institutions are widely used in modern societies to discourage rule violations but whether they have an impact beyond their immediate scope of application is usually ignored. Using a natural field experiment, we show that they affect intrinsic honesty across contexts. We identified fraudsters and non-fraudsters in public transport who were or not exposed to ticket inspections by the transport company. We then measured the intrinsic honesty of the same persons in a new unrelated context where they could misappropriate money. Instead of having an educative effect, the exposure to deterrence practices increases unethical behavior of fraudsters but also of non-fraudsters.