Self-reported ethical risk taking tendencies predict actual dishonesty

Liora Zimerman, Shaul Shalvi, Yoella Bereby-Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Are people honest about the extent to which they engage in unethical behaviors? We report an experiment examining the relation between self-reported risky unethical tendencies and actual dishonest behavior. Participants' self-reported risk taking tendencies were assessed using the Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (DOSPERT) questionnaire, while actual self-serving dishonesty was assessed using a private coin tossing task. In this task, participants predicted the outcome of coin tosses, held the predictions in mind, and reported whether their predictions were correct. Thus, the task allowed participants to lie about whether their predictions were correct. We manipulated whether reporting higher correct scores increased (vs. not) participants monetary payoff. Results revealed a positive relation between self-reported unethical risky tendencies and actual dishonesty. The effect was limited to the condition in which dishonesty was self-serving. Our results suggest liars are aware of their dishonest tendencies and are potentially not ashamed of them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Dishonesty
  • Honesty
  • Lying
  • Risk taking
  • Unethical behavior

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Applied Psychology


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