The wages of dishonesty: The supply of cheating under high-powered incentives
Victor M. Bennett and
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2017, vol. 137, issue C, 428-444
We use a novel design to identify how dishonesty changes through a broad reward range that, at the high end, exceeds participants’ average daily wages. Using a sample of online Indian workers who earn bonuses based on six simultaneous coin flips, we show that the relationship between dishonesty and financial rewards depends on the incentive range. We find two novel effects as incentives exceed those used in most prior research. First, dishonesty increases and reaches its maximum as rewards increase from $0.50 to $3 per reported head and as earnings reach $15, indicating that rewards can indeed motivate more cheating when large enough. More importantly, we show that dishonesty declines at the highest reward levels (up to $5 per head) as individuals appear to engage in lower magnitudes of dishonesty. We detail how our results could be explained by a reference-dependent utility with internal costs of dishonesty that are convex in the magnitude of the lie, and show survey and simulation-based evidence that support this explanation.
Keywords: Incentives; Dishonesty; Cheating; Ethics; Reference points; Prospect theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:428-444
Access Statistics for this article
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Neilson, William Stuart
More articles in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Dana Niculescu ().