Essays on behavioral responses to dishonest and anti-social decision making

Thijs Brouwer

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The first essay examines how people respond to dishonest behavior that benefits them (but hurts a third party) by examining their trust towards the dishonest decision-maker. The results of a laboratory experiment do not provide conclusive evidence, with people trusting honest and dishonest decision-makers to a similar extent. Instead, trust is higher when the moral dilemma is completely avoided by chance and the highest payoff was obtained without having to lie. This implies that moral dilemmas are better prevented than cured. The second essay assesses the extent to which parents engage in norm compliance and norm enforcement in front of their children, with the aim of teaching them the importance of social norms. The field experiment shows that parents are more likely to punish a norm violation by a stranger in front of their children and that they are more likely to help a stranger in need in this case. As such, this essay documents that parents teach their children not simply by modeling desired behavior to them, but also by punishing undesirable behavior.
Finally, the third essay examines how anti-social incentives, imposed by an
employer, which encourage workers to harm an outside party to the benefit of the employer may backfire and hurt subsequent productivity of workers. In a laboratory experiment, subjects in the role of workers punish employers who imposed antisocial incentives by performing worse in a task that benefits the employer. This effect disappears when the employer had no control over the incentives imposed on the worker. Together, these results show that workers negatively reciprocate the psychological costs imposed on them intentionally and exemplify the importance of organizational leadership.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • Potters, Jan, Promotor
  • van Damme, Eric, Promotor
Award date19 May 2021
Place of PublicationTilburg
Print ISBNs978 90 5668 649 9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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