Beliefs Fostering Dishonest Behavior

2016-2019 CEU Intellectual Themes Initiative: Beliefs fostering dishonest behavior: Combining ethnographic and experimental evidence (BFD)

Participating from the Social Mind Center: Christophe Heintz, Mia Karabegovic 

The project will investigate the factors that determine people's attitudes toward social rules aimed at improving societal welfare. Dishonesty can be characterized as failing to respect these rules, and adhering to them can be necessary for stable cooperation and resolving collective action problems. However, against this first operational characterization, ethnographic and experimental data suggest that depending on the context, people may break a rule and still think of themselves as honest. Context systematically influence people’s attitude towards rules.

The project’s focus is on the cultural beliefs that determine negative attitudes towards the rules meant to increase societal welfare. What are these beliefs and how do they spread?

 The project will employ a multi-disciplinary methodology, bringing together scientists from the School of Public Policy, the Business School, and the Departments of Cognitive Science and Sociology and Social Anthropology. We will gather empirical data from a set of behavioral experiments on dishonesty, and from ethnographic field work, interviews and simulation games in organizations. Additionally, these methods will be combined by using the ethnographic data to design experimental protocols for cross-cultural implementation.  Our research will contribute to a better understanding of the type of beliefs that prompt negative attitudes towards social rules. We will make our findings directly relevant to policy makers and company leaders who seek to decrease the rate of dishonest behavior in their environments.