We analyze experimentally two sender–receiver games with conflictive preferences. In the first game, the sender can choose to tell the truth, to lie, or to remain silent. The latter strategy is costly. In the second game, the receiver must decide additionally whether or not to costly punish the sender after having observed the history of the game. We investigate the existence of two kinds of social preferences: lying aversion and preference for truth-telling. In the first game, senders tell the truth more often than predicted by the sequential equilibrium analysis, they remain silent frequently, and there exists a positive correlation between the probability of being truthful and the probability of remaining silent. Our main experimental result for the extended game shows that those subjects who punish the sender with a high probability after being deceived are precisely those who send fewer but more truthful messages. Finally, we solve for the Perfect Bayesian Nash Equilibria of a reduced form of the baseline game with two types of senders. The equilibrium predictions obtained suggest that the observed excessive truth-telling in the baseline game can be explained by lying aversion but not by a preference for truth-telling.
- Lying aversion
- Social preferences
- Strategic information transmission