Too Lucky to be True: Fairness views under the shadow of cheating

Abstract:

The acquisition of resources through unethical behavior and ordinary misdeeds contributes to exacerbate inequalities in society. This raises the issue of what should be considered a fair distribution in situations potentially involving immoral self-serving behavior. We conduct an experiment where third parties could redistribute resources between two stakeholders. Stakeholders decided between a safe option and a risky lottery. In one treatment the lottery was resolved by the computer and in the other treatment by a self-reported toss of a coin. We find that the mere suspicion of cheating alters fairness views and what is deemed just. When cheating opportunities are present, the share of people always equalizing earnings triples. In both treatments, we find that there is a similar share of libertarian people that never redistribute.

the choice lab