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Publié le December 3, 2019 | Updated on April 16, 2020

Three Essays in behavioral Ethics on Honesty and Fairness

Julien BENISTANT - Under the supervision of Marie-claire Villeval

This thesis contains three essays in behavioral ethics. By using tools from experimental economics and neurophysiology our work unveils some social and contextual determinants that affect decisions related to either honesty or fairness.The first chapter investigates how competitive incentives influence the impact of both group identity and the nature of the lie on (dis)honest behavior. Our results show that under competition, group identity plays no role, even when experimenters cannot directly observe the behavior of cheaters. However, participants are less dishonest when their lies directly affect their opponent than when they affect them only indirectly but only when there is no possible scrutiny from the experimenter.The second chapter examines the effect of being continuously informed about another participant’s performance on individuals’ dishonesty in both competitive and non-competitive settings. Our results show that, only non-competitive settings, participants are more likely to be dishonest when we give them continuous information or not. The lack of effect of social information in competitive settings is mainly due to the fact that, when they are not informed, male participants overestimate their opponent’s dishonesty. Thus, when informed of their opponent’s actual behavior, they adapt their behavior and cheat less than when uninformed.Finally, the third chapter studies whether experiencing a loss or a gain in a task affects a subsequent sharing decision. Consistent with our theoretical predictions, we find that losing money compared to a reference point, reduces people’s generosity while experiencing a gain increases individuals’ subsequent generosity. Unlike expected, the level of emotional arousal when individuals are informed about whether they gained or lost money does not explain their subsequent sharing decision.