This study explores whether an oath to honesty can reduce both shirking and lying among crowd-sourced internet workers. Using a classic coin-flip experiment, we first show that a substantial majority of Mechanical Turk workers both shirk and lie when reporting the number of heads flipped. We then demonstrate lying can be reduced by first asking each worker to swear voluntarily on his or her honor to tell the truth in subsequent economic decisions. The oath, however, did not reduce shirking as measured by time- at-coin-flip-task, although it did increase the time they spent answering a demographic survey. Conditional on response, MTurk shirkers and liars were less likely to agree to an ex post honesty oath. Our results suggest oaths may help elicit more truthful behavior in on-line crowd-sourced environments.
Jacquemet, N., James, A., Luchini, S., Murphy, J., & Shogren, J. F. (2019). Lying and shirking under oath. ESI Working Paper 19-19. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/278/