The truth about lies: A meta-analysis on dishonest behavior.

Over the past decade, a large and growing body of experimental research has analyzed dishonest behavior. Yet the findings as to when people engage in (dis)honest behavior are to some extent unclear and even contradictory. A systematic analysis of the factors associated with dishonest behavior thus seems desirable. This meta-analysis reviews four of the most widely used experimental paradigms: sender–receiver games, die-roll tasks, coin-flip tasks, and matrix tasks. We integrate data from 565 experiments (totaling N = 44,050 choices) to address many of the ongoing debates on who behaves dishonestly and under what circumstances. Our findings show that dishonest behavior depends on both situational factors, such as reward magnitude and externalities, and personal factors, such as the participant’s gender and age. Further, laboratory studies are associated with more dishonesty than field studies, and the use of deception in experiments is associated with less dishonesty. To some extent, the different experimental paradigms come to different conclusions. For example, a comparable percentage of people lie in die-roll and matrix tasks, but in die-roll tasks liars lie to a considerably greater degree. We also find substantial evidence for publication bias in almost all measures of dishonest behavior. Future research on dishonesty would benefit from more representative participant pools and from clarifying why the different experimental paradigms yield different conclusions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)