Size Matters – When it Comes to Lies

Date: 2011-05-17
By: Gerald Eisenkopf (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz, Germany)
Ruslan Gurtoviy (Department of Business Administration, University of Trier, Germany)
Verena Utikal (Department of Economics, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:knz:dpteco:1114&r=net
A small lie appears trivial but it obviously violates moral commandments. We analyze whether the preference for others’ truth telling is absolute or depends on the size of a lie. In a laboratory experiment we compare punishment for different sizes of lies controlling for the resulting economic harm. We find that people are sensitive to the size of a lie and that this behavioural pattern is driven by honest people. People who lie themselves punish softly in any context.
Keywords: Lying, norm violation, punishment, experiment
JEL: C91