Scroll to Section:

In recent years, immoral behavior in firms as well as scandals in the banking sector and non-profit organizations have been widely discussed. Often it is groups rather than individuals who are responsible for these immoral acts. This video presents an economic experiment that investigates whether groups are more likely to lie than individuals; and why this might be the case. As SIMEON SCHUDY explains, significantly more participants behave dishonestly after communicating in a group than individually. The study shows that the possibility to exchange arguments for and against dishonesty makes group members not only more dishonest but also more pessimistic about other people’s honesty. This "dishonesty shift" might explain why unethical behavior can prevail in so many real world institutions and makes it hard to predict (im)moral decisions of groups based on the moral standards each individual group member holds.


Simeon Schudy is Professor of Behavioral and Experimental Economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. He is journal referee for various publications, such as the American Political Science Review, the European Economic Review or the Journal for Public Economics. From 2009 to 2012, he was Research Leader of the project ‘Energy Investments and Heterogeneous Preferences’ at the Thurgau Institute of Economics, funded by the Swiss federal office of energy. In 2015, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award of the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich.


Original publication

I lie? We lie! Why? Experimental Evidence on a Dishonesty Shift in Groups

Kocher Martin G., Schudy Simeon and Spantig Lisa
Münchener Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Beiträge (VWL)
Published in 2016

Reading recommendations

The Science of Experimental Economics

Gächter Simon and Croson Rachel
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Published in 2010

Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field

DellaVigna Stefano
Journal of Economic Literature
Published in 2009

Field Experiments

Harrison Glenn W. and List John A.
Journal of Economic Literature
Published in 2004

Lies in Disguise—An Experimental Study on Cheating

Fischbacher Urs and Föllmi-Heusi Franziska
Journal of the European Economic Association
Published in 2013

Deception: The Role of Consequences

Gneezy Uri
The American Economic Review
Published in 2005

Preferences for Truth-telling

Abeler Johannes, Nosenzo Daniele and Raymond Collin
Published in 2016
Show more