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Who never tells a lie?

date Date: February 1, 2015
date Author(s): Christoph Vanberg
date Affiliation: University of Heidelberg
Abstract

Erat and Gneezy (2012) conduct an experiment to test whether people avoid lying in a situation where doing so would lead to a Pareto improvement. They conclude that many people exhibit such a “pure lie aversion.” I argue that the experiment does not provide a reliable test for such an aversion, and that the evidence does not support the authors’ conclusion. I conduct two new experiments which are explicitly designed to test for a ‘pure’ aversion to
lying, and find no evidence for the existence of such a motivation. I discuss the implications of the findings for moral behavior and rule following more generally.


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