Do tightwads cheat more? Evidence from three field experiments

Yossef Tobol, Erez Siniver, Gideon Yaniv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The paper reports the results of three field experiments designed to inquire whether tightwads, defined in the eco-psych literature as people who feel intense pain at the prospect of spending money, are more likely to cheat than other people in order to avoid paying. In the first experiment, passersby at a Tel-Aviv shopping mall were asked to answer a questionnaire that determined their pain of paying level. They were thereafter invited to perform an "inverse" version of the die-under-the-cup (DUTC) task that incentivized under-reporting of the actual die outcome to avoid paying money. In the second experiment, laptop users at Tel-Aviv coffee shops, who may unabashedly work long hours over a single cup of coffee, were offered to perform the inverse DUTC task upon leaving the shop and after recording the time and money they spent there. The third experiment was conducted with Jerusalem cab drivers, many of whom avoid turning on their air conditioning systems on hot summer days. The experiment involved riding both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned cabs in Jerusalem and offering drivers, at the end of the ride, to perform the inverse DUTC task. In all three experiments, tightwaddism was found to have a statistically significant positive effect on cheating. The experimental findings are supported by a rational-choice model that predicts that cheating increases with the pain of spending money.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-158
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Cheating
  • Die-under-the-cup task
  • Pain of paying
  • Tightwads


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