Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Malleability of preferences for honesty

Author(s): Johannes Abeler, Armin Falk and Fabian Kosse

Publication Date: May 2021

Keyword(s): experiments with children, formation of preferences, honesty, Lying and truth-telling

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: Reporting private information is a key part of economic decision making. A recent literature has found that many people have a preference for honest reporting, contrary to usual economic assumptions. In this paper, we investigate whether preferences for honesty are malleable and what determines them. We experimentally measure preferences for honesty in a sample of children. As our main result, we provide causal evidence on the effect of the social environment by randomly enrolling children in a year-long mentoring programme. We find that, about four years after the end of the programme, mentored children are significantly more honest.

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Bibliographic Reference

Abeler, J, Falk, A and Kosse, F. 2021. 'Malleability of preferences for honesty'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.