Journal of the Economic Science Association

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 136–150 | Cite as

A method to estimate mean lying rates and their full distribution

  • Ellen Garbarino
  • Robert Slonim
  • Marie Claire VillevalEmail author
Original Paper


Studying the likelihood that individuals cheat requires a valid statistical measure of dishonesty. We develop an easy empirical method to measure and compare lying behavior within and across studies to correct for sampling errors. This method estimates the full distribution of lying when agents privately observe the outcome of a random process (e.g., die roll) and can misreport what they observed. It provides a precise estimate of the mean and confidence interval (offering lower and upper bounds on the proportion of people lying) over the full distribution, allowing for a vast range of statistical inferences not generally available with the existing methods.


Dishonesty Lying Econometric estimation Sampling errors Experimental economics 

JEL Classification

C91 C81 D03 



We are grateful to an Associate Editor and two anonymous reviewers for very useful comments and to Quentin Thevenet for assistance. Financial support from the University of Sydney and the FELIS program of the French National Agency for Research (ANR14-CE28-0010-01) is gratefully acknowledged. This research was performed within the framework of the LABEX CORTEX (ANR-11-LABX-0042) of Université de Lyon, within the program Investissements d’Avenir (ANR-11-IDEX-007) operated by the French National Research Agency (ANR).


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MarketingUniversity of Sydney Business SchoolSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE (UMR5824)EcullyFrance
  4. 4.IZABonnGermany

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