To deceive or not to deceive: The effect of deception on behavior in future laboratory experiments

Julian Jamison, Dean Karlan, Laura Schechter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Experimental economists believe (and enforce the idea) that researchers should not employ deception in the design of experiments. This rule exists in order to protect a public good: the ability of other researchers to conduct experiments and to have participants trust their instructions to be an accurate representation of the game being played. Yet other social sciences, particularly psychology, do not maintain such a rule. We examine whether such a public goods problem exists by purposefully deceiving some participants in one study, informing them of this fact, and then examining whether the deceived participants behave differently in a subsequent study. We find significant differences in the selection of individuals who return to play after being deceived as well as (to a lesser extent) the behavior in the subsequent games, thus providing qualified support for the proscription of deception. We discuss policy implications for the maintenance of separate participant pools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-488
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


  • Deception
  • Experimental economics
  • Laboratory experimental methods
  • Laboratory selection effects
  • Psychology and economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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