Will cheaters in the lab also cheat in the field?

Backed by Rafael F.Font
University of Essex
Colchester, England
Raised of $2,200 Goal
Ended on 9/02/17
Campaign Ended
  • $70
  • 4%
  • Finished
    on 9/02/17

About This Project

Evidence from laboratory experiments shows that individuals are lying averse and that they do not lie maximally when the monetary incentives from lying outweigh the gains from being honest. However, recent papers rise the question whether these results can predict cheating behaviour in normal daily life. My research aims to study the relationship between cheating behaviour in the lab and in the field.

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What is the context of this research?

Fischbacher and Föllmi-Heusi, (2013) shows that most individuals tell the truth even when lying would be more profitable. In addition, Abeler, Nosenzo, and Raymond (2016) study the extent to which people lie and report that many subjects do not lie maximally. However, how much these results can tell about lying in everyday life is not clear. Problems such as experimenter scrutiny, lack of anonymity, and artificiality of the lab environment undermine the generalizability of laboratory results on cheating (Levitt and List, 2007). How can evidence from the lab be trusted to explain cheating in everyday life where anonymity and non-observability are in place?

What is the significance of this project?

Following the thought of the german philosopher Immanuel Kant, honesty is considered as a virtue and to tell the truth is a duty. While most people will agree with this thought, lying is a widespread phenomenon in our society. DePaulo, Kashy, Kirkendol, Wyer, and Epstein (1996) found that people lies in 20% to 31% of their daily social interactions. Moreover, between 72% to 82% were willing to lie again under the same circumstances. Thus, understanding what drives economic agents to tell the truth is of economic importance, from banking to insurance. Understanding the correlation between lying behaviour in the lab and in the field will provide important results that can be exploited in order to reduce dishonesty in our daily life.

What are the goals of the project?

This project aims to study the correlation between cheating in the laboratory and cheating in everyday life. I plan to conduct a study similar to Potters and Stoop (2016) that differs on two main aspects. First, I will develop a new "mind game" that, in contrast with the current literature, will allow me to collect individual observations instead of drawing inference on distributions. This game should remove any reputational concern making the lab and field behaviour more comparable. Second, in the field experiment I will implement a task analogous to the one in the lab, where the decision to cheat is an active choice. These two novelties will make possible to look at the correlation in cheating at the individual level and to classify agents according to their behaviour.


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The budget will be used to pay subjects for their participation in the experiments. The individual average payment will be £16. At the moment I plan to run 7 experimental sessions with a total number of 110 participants.

Endorsed by

I think this project belongs to a stream of literature which is lately getting a lot of attention in top journals. Moreover it contributes to the literature in an innovative and substantial way by addressing two key points. Firstly, this project tests the external validity of laboratory experiments on cheating behaviour. Moreover, the proposed design overcomes several limitations which are typical of the experiments in this part of the literature. I believe this project has a high potential to produce interesting results.
I believe this project has high potential to shed a critical light on lying behavior, which is an interesting and not fully understood phenomenon in social sciences. This contribution, pragmatic in its nature, would bring novel insights that apply to a broad range of real world contexts, e.g. the design of organizational structures or taxation systems. I personally know Andrea and I can say that he is well trained, motivated and skilled. I am truly convinced that his project will push the frontier of this growing body of research.

Flag iconProject Timeline

In the next two months I will obtain approval from the laboratory to conduct the study and present the outline of the research question in a related seminar.

I will possibly run the pilot experiment in November 2017. Then, after fixing possible issues, I will run the experimental sessions in November and December 2017. If other funding will be available I will run additional sessions in spring 2018.

Aug 03, 2017

Project Launched

Oct 15, 2017

Finish setting up the experimental design

Nov 30, 2017

Run pilot experiment and first session (at least)

May 31, 2018

Finish to collect all data

Jun 15, 2018

Provide preliminary data analysis and experimental results.

Meet the Team

Andrea Albertazzi
Andrea Albertazzi
PhD student


University of Essex
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Andrea Albertazzi

I am a PhD Student in Economics at the University of Essex. My research interest belong to experimental economics and behavioural economics.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

I plan to run experimental sessions from November 2017 with a total number of 110 participants (at least).

Project Backers

  • 2Backers
  • 4%Funded
  • $70Total Donations
  • $35.00Average Donation
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