Experimental Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 130–155

Clever enough to tell the truth

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10683-016-9479-y

Cite this article as:
Ruffle, B.J. & Tobol, Y. Exp Econ (2017) 20: 130. doi:10.1007/s10683-016-9479-y


We conduct a field experiment on 427 Israeli soldiers who each rolled a six-sided die in private and reported the outcome. For every point reported, the soldier received an additional half-hour early release from the army base on Thursday afternoon. We find that the higher a soldier’s military entrance score, the more honest he is on average. We replicate this finding on a sample of 156 civilians paid in cash for their die reports. Furthermore, the civilian experiments reveal that two measures of cognitive ability predict honesty, whereas general self-report honesty questions and a consistency check among them are of no value. We provide a rationale for the relationship between cognitive ability and honesty and discuss its generalizability.


Honesty Cognitive ability Soldiers High non-monetary stakes 

JEL Codes

C93 M51 

Supplementary material

10683_2016_9479_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (191 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 190 kb)

Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.School of ManagementJerusalem College of TechnologyJerusalemIsrael
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany

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