22.2.12

Do Economists Lie More?

Recent experimental evidence suggests that some people dislike telling lies, and tell the truth even at a cost. We use experiments as well to study the socio-demographic covariates of such lie aversion, and find gender and religiosity to be without predictive value. However, subjects’ major is predictive: Business and Economics (B&E) subjects lie significantly more frequently than other majors. This is true even after controlling for subjects’ beliefs about the overall rate of deception, which predict behavior very well: Although B&E subjects expect most others to lie in our decision problem, the effect of major remains. An instrumental variables analysis suggests that the effect is not simply one of selection: It seems that studying B&E has a causal impact on behavior.
That is the abstract of a new paper by Raúl López-Pérez and Eli Spiegelman.
Another argument for a code of ethics in the profession? See a review of a book on ethics for economists here. Do you know of other recent articles on ethics in economics? Thanks!

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