Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important

Author(s)
Yonas Alem, Håkan Eggert, Martin G. Kocher, Remidius D. Ruhinduka
Abstract

Understanding unethical behavior is essential to many phenomena in the real world. We carry out a field experiment in a unique setting that varies the levels of reciprocity and guilt in an ethical decision. A survey more than one year before the field experiment allows us to compare at the individual level stated unethical behavior with revealed behavior in the same situation in the field. Our results indicate a strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior, regardless of the specific treatment in the field experiment. This suggests that, given a natural setting, people may actually behave inconsistently with the way in which they otherwise “brand” themselves. Our findings raise caution about the interpretation of stated behavioral measures commonly used in research on unethical behavior. In addition, we show that inducing reciprocity and guilt leads to a decrease in unethical behavior.

Organisation(s)
Department of Economics, Vienna Center for Experimental Economics
External organisation(s)
IHS - Institut für Höhere Studien und wissenschaftliche Forschung, University of Dar es Salaam, University of Gothenburg
Journal
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume
156
Pages
71-85
ISSN
0167-2681
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.08.026
Publication date
12-2018
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
Economics, Behavioural economics
Keywords
ASJC Scopus subject areas
,
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/why-field-experiments-on-unethical-behavior-are-important(9529dba0-3550-449f-9865-f314a2005640).html