February 2014

No. 7946: The Effect of Behavioral Codes and Gender on Honesty

published as 'Roll a Die and Tell a Lie: What Affects Honesty?' in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2014, 107, 153-172

We examine the effect of adherence to behavioral codes, as measured by the degree of religiosity, on the level of honesty by conducting under-the-cup die experiments. The findings suggest that behavioral codes, which prohibit lying, offset the monetary incentive to lie. The highest level of honesty is found among young religious females while the lowest is found among secular females. Moreover, when the monetary incentive to lie is removed, the tendency of secular subjects to lie disappears. Given the strict separation between the secular and religious education systems the research findings confirm the importance of education in instilling ethical values.