Inducing Acute Stress in an Economist’s Lab

Selfish Black Lies and Trust under Socio-Evaluative Threat

  • Karina Held
Schlagworte: Acute Socio-Evaluative Stress, Experiment, Selfish Black Lie, Lying Aversion, Trust, JEL: C91, D82, D87


We propose and validate a task to induce acute socio-evaluative stress in the laboratory. The task features performance-based pay and simultaneously creates a treatment and a control group. Employing this task, we study the influence of acute socio-evaluative stress on the propensity to tell a selfish black lie and to trust messages that can comprise lies. We find that stress significantly reduces the probability to lie at the extensive margin, while it does not influence the intensive margin of lying. Furthermore, we find evidence that socio-evaluative stress significantly reduces the willingness to trust messages that may contain large lies.