People avoid situations that enable them to deceive others


Information advantage enables people to benefit themselves by deceiving their counterparts. Using a modified ultimatum bargaining game with an exit option, we find that people are more likely to avoid settings enabling them to privately deceive their counterparts than settings which do not enable deception. This tendency is explained by people’s reduced desire to become responsible for the other’s outcomes when deception is possible. Results of three experiments show that people avoid entering a setting that enables deception by appearing fair while being unfair (Exp. 1-3). Experiment 2 showed that this tendency was reduced when interaction partners were displayed as competitive rather than cooperative. Experiment 3 showed a stronger tendency to avoid tempting situations that enable private deception than to approach situations in which one can privately benefit others. We conclude that when navigating through social space, people avoid situations enabling them to deceive others. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology