The Effect of Self-awareness on Dishonesty (Full study)

Last registered on December 09, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

The Effect of Self-awareness on Dishonesty (Full study)
Initial registration date
December 09, 2019

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
December 09, 2019, 2:15 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

University of Warwick

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Warwick

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
In his seminal work, Becker (1968) showed that the gain from behavior that harms others, the cost of that behavior and the probability of getting caught have an effect on the decision to commit criminal acts. However, these mechanisms are not enough to prevent crime in general and certainly not enough to curb more modest anti-social behavior such as dishonesty. Other than the monetary cost of dishonesty, people also experience psychological distress from dishonest behavior. This comes about through the cognitive dissonance or mental discomfort which arises because of the contradiction between a person’s beliefs about herself and her behavior in real life. A person might well like to think of herself as honest but behaving in conflict with this ideal would create cognitive dissonance and put that self-awareness under threat. In this study we attempt to measure and understand the role of self-awareness (both in terms of better understanding and modifying the ideal self) as a tool to explain and possibly mitigate dishonest behaviour, using an online experiment.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cibik, Ceren Bengu and Daniel Sgroi. 2019. "The Effect of Self-awareness on Dishonesty (Full study)." AEA RCT Registry. December 09.
Experimental Details


We will recruit Amazon MTurk workers who will be randomized among multiple treatments. Each treatment requires the subject to write a description of a real-life event involving honesty or dishonesty which entailed different combinations of benefit and cost to themselves and/or others. There is also a control group who do not write descriptions. After this, they all face a series of tasks designed to reveal attitudes towards honesty.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Measures of honesty, measures of self-awareness (personality, integrity, fairness), other-regarding preferences, text.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The various honesty measures include decisions made during a matrix puzzle game (in which subjects have the opportunity to lie) and a cheap talk game. Personality is derived from the Big Five Inventory test. We use a separate questionnaire for integrity and fairness. The main other-regarding preference to be assessed is altruism using a dictator game. We will also analyse the text used in the descriptions to reveal other psychological and linguistic variables relevant to dishonesty and self-awareness.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Demographics, risk preferences.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Basic demographics (gender, age, education, etc.).

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In the MTurk experiment we first ask subjects to complete a number of questions that reveal information about their risk preferences, personality and attitudes as well as demographics. Next we randomize subjects into different groups each of which requires the subject to write a description about a real life event involving honesty or dishonesty. After this they all face a series of tasks designed to reveal dishonesty. There is also a control group who do not write a description but face the same subsequent tasks. We also examine the scope for the demand effect.
Experimental Design Details
The experiment consists of 4 groups (one control and 3 treatment ). Treatment groups differ in terms of the level of dishonesty or the resulting consequence of the dishonest behaviour on other people. The dishonesty measures include a cheap talk game and a matrix puzzle in which they have the opportunity to be dishonest. Personality, preferences and attitudes are measured using the Big Five inventory test, a risk test, integrity and ethic questionnaire, ultimatum game and a dictator game.
Randomization Method
By computer.
Randomization Unit
At the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
904 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
226 individuals in each study group (we have 1 control and 3 treatment groups.)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Given the sample size, for the cheap talk game, the minimum detectable effect size for the main outcome is 0.13 additional unit (13% difference with the control group) at 5 % significance level with 80 % power. For the matrix task, the minimum detectable effect size is 0.264 additional units of matrix reported to be solved.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Internal Department of Economics Approval Process
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials