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Studying deception without deceiving participants: an experiment of deception experiments

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Like avoiding labor protection laws via foreign subcontractors, banning deception in economic experiments does not exclude experiments with participants in the role of experimenters who, similar to properly incentivized subcontractors, can gain by deceiving those in the role of proper participants. We compare treatments with and without possible deception by ‘experimenter-participants’ in a dictator experiment and test whether participants in the role of experimenters engage in deception and whether deception affects the behavior of ‘participant-participants.’ We find that most participants in the role of experimenters engage in deception and that there is no difference in the behavior of participant-participants between treatments, even when repeating the experiment without deception after debriefing. Our results can be viewed as a contribution to studying the effects of unethical behavior via outsourcing it to subcontractors, by letting them do the harm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • ALBERTI_2013_cright_JEBO_Studying Deception without Deceiving Participants

    Rights statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 93, (2013), DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.04.001,

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 291 KB, PDF document

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