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Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important: Comparing stated and revealed behavior

Journal article
Authors Yonas Alem
Håkan Eggert
Martin G. Kocher
Remidius Denis Ruhinduka
Published in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Volume 156
Pages 71-85
ISSN 0167-2681
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 71-85
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.08.0...
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018...
Keywords Honesty, Kindness, Guilt, Field experiment, Behavioral economics, contingent valuation, gift exchange, honesty, dishonesty, deception, fairness, aversion, beliefs, market, number, Business & Economics
Subject categories Economics

Abstract

Understanding unethical behavior is essential to many phenomena in the real world. We carry out a field experiment in a unique setting that varies the levels of reciprocity and guilt in an ethical decision. A survey more than one year before the field experiment allows us to compare at the individual level stated unethical behavior with revealed behavior in the same situation in the field. Our results indicate a strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior, regardless of the specific treatment in the field experiment. This suggests that, given a natural setting, people may actually behave inconsistently with the way in which they otherwise "brand" themselves. Our findings raise caution about the interpretation of stated behavioral measures commonly used in research on unethical behavior. In addition, we show that inducing reciprocity and guilt leads to a decrease in unethical behavior. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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