Experimental Economics

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 717–732 | Cite as

Dishonesty and charitable behavior

  • Doru CojocEmail author
  • Adrian Stoian
Original Paper


We examine in the laboratory how having the opportunity to donate to a charity in the future affects the likelihood of engaging in dishonest behavior in the present. We also examine how charitable donations are affected by past ethical choices. First, subjects self-report their performance on a task, which provides them with an opportunity for undetected cheating. In the second stage they can donate some of the money earned in the first stage to a charity. Only subjects in the treatment group know about the opportunity to donate in the second stage. We find that more subjects cheat if they know they can donate some of the money to charity. We also find that subjects in treatment end up donating less to charity and that both honest and dishonest subjects donate less in treatment. We propose a new hypothesis that explains these results: past violations of social norms numb one’s conscience, leading to more antisocial behavior.


Dishonesty Charity Donations Identity Guilt 

JEL Classification

D03 D63 D64 L31 

Supplementary material

10683_2014_9391_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (147 kb)
(PDF 147 kB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsCalifornia State UniversityHaywardUSA

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