Review of “Cheaters, Liars or Both? A New Classification of Dishonesty Profiles” (2020)

Adrián Muñoz (writer), Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño (writer), David Pascual-Ezama (writer), Drazen Prelec (writer).

Read in 2020.

A typology of dishonesty in games of random chance. The result of a first version of an experiment, using a secretly monitored web site to simulate a coin flip with laboratory volunteers and Mechanical Turk workers (both being paid more real money for a “white” result), are summarized as follows in the paper.

Lab MTurk
(n=93) (n=52) (n=85) (n=43)
Flip the coin - obtain white - report white LUCKY 44% - 49% -
Flip the coin - obtain black - report black HONEST 22% 41% 19% 37%
Flip the coin - obtain black - repeat until white - report white CHEATERS NON-LIARS 10% 17% 3.5% 7%
Flip the coin - obtain black - report white LIARS 13% 23% 3.5% 7%
Do not flip the coin at all - report white RADICAL DISHONEST 11% 19% 25% 49%

The so-called “radical dishonest” category comprises people who both cheated (did not follow instructions) and lied (reported a result they did not get). These were identified by reporting a result too quickly to have gone to any other web site than the monitored one the researchers had prepared. The experiment is repeated with a die roll, permitting degrees of dishonesty but obtaining the same basic typology.

The discussion is interesting but doesn’t quite explain why the “MTurker” samples were more prone to radical dishonesty. I speculate that it has to do with motivational crowding out: Being alredy engaged in a primarily monetary relationship, they would maximize return on investment, rather than profit itself.

non-fiction text