Ever hear the joke about the lying economist?
No? Well, neither have I. But we might need to come up with one.
Such is the takeaway from a working paper released in January, which I stumbled on while browsing Professor Andres Marroquin's top papers of 2012. Written by a pair of researchers from universities in Montreal and Madrid, it examined whether the study of economics made students more apt to lie for financial gain. The answer: a resounding yes.
Several past experiments have tried to test how people's personal beliefs and background influence their willingness to lie, and one, published in 2009, had yielded results suggesting that economics students were more likely to fib than those in other disciplines. Raul Lopez-Perez and Eli Spiegelman -- both economists themselves -- wanted to find out if those findings would hold up in another lab setting ... and if they did, exactly why that might be the case. Were econ students over-internalizing the lessons of the dismal science, which teaches that human being are supposed to act in their rational self interest? Or were dishonest young folks just more likely to sign up for econ classes in the first place...MORE