Economics Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Economics Seminar

Dishonesty of People

People like to think of themselves as honest. However, dishonesty 
pays—and it often pays well. How do people resolve this tension? This 
research shows that people behave dishonestly enough to profit but 
honestly enough to delude themselves of their own integrity. A little bit 
of dishonesty gives a taste of profit without spoiling a positive self-view. 
Two mechanisms allow for such self-concept maintenance: inattention to 
moral standards and categorization malleability. Six experiments support 
the theory of self-concept maintenance and offer practical 
applications for curbing dishonesty in everyday life.

This paper tests the role of spousal discordance in explaining unmet need for contraception and excess fertility through a fi eld experiment with a large public family planning clinic in Lusaka, Zambia. We randomly assigned married women to receive a voucher, which guaranteed ease of access to a range of modern contraceptives, either alone ("Individual" treatment) or in the presence of their husbands ("Couples" treatment). Women in the Individual treatment were 23% more likely to visit a family planning nurse and 38% more likely to receive a concealable form of contraception, leading to a 57% reduction in unwanted births 9-14 months later. These fi ndings provide evidence of ineffi ciencies in household bargaining over fertility, which have the potential to generate a higher level of fertility than is socially optimal. These  findings also help explain why some e fforts to involve men in family planning have been unsuccessful in reducing unmet need.


Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Nina Mazar, University of Toronto
Sponsored by: Economics Department


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