Delayed Honesty

Last registered on April 06, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Delayed Honesty
Initial registration date
November 23, 2018

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 26, 2018, 2:09 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
April 06, 2022, 3:59 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Cologne

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
PI Affiliation
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Many economic interactions involve the release of private information to other agents. Often, there is a trade-off between truthful reporting, which may be morally desirable and/or socially optimal and lying, which may be individually optimal, i.e., payoff-maximizing. Rejecting the idea that economic agents are purely interested in their own monetary gains and without any ``moral compass'', a recent literature in economics has demonstrated a number of factors which influence an individual's degree of honesty, such as the possible gains from lying, the degree of social observability, and the ex-ante likelihood of different states of the world.

In this project, we investigate how the timing of when the costs and benefits of lying occur, affect people’s degree of dishonesty. In particular, we are interested in the following three questions: (i) How is lying affected when the benefits from misreporting accrue delayed rather than immediately? (ii) How does increased mental engagement with the lie affect misreporting when benefits are delayed? (iii) How does a delay between the time when private information is obtained and the time when people report it affect dishonesty? We study these questions in an online experiment conducted on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bortolotti, Stefania, Felix Kölle and Lukas Wenner. 2022. "Delayed Honesty." AEA RCT Registry. April 06.
Former Citation
Bortolotti, Stefania, Felix Kölle and Lukas Wenner. 2022. "Delayed Honesty." AEA RCT Registry. April 06.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Fraction of subjects who report "2 Heads"
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We study lying behavior in an experiment conducted on MTurk. Subjects report the outcome of two coin flips, flipped in private unobserved by the experimenters. The payment is based on their report. In six different treatments we vary the relative timing between coin flips, report, and payment.
Experimental Design Details
Please see the uploaded document ("Analysis Plan") for more details.
Randomization Method
done by the experimental software (Qualtrics)
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1240 participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
1240 participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 participants in treatments 1 to 4, 220 participants in treatments 5 and 6.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
German Association for Experimental Economic Research (GfeW)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Bortolotti Koelle Wenner - Pre-Analysis Plan Delayed Honesty

MD5: f6c1c3ffbbf51dec23db932a76fe93e4

SHA1: 01e6cbe62630359369d18dd87ac762a4867ad341

Uploaded At: November 27, 2018


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials