Clever enough to tell the truth

Bradley J. Ruffle, Yossef Tobol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We conduct a field experiment on 427 Israeli soldiers who each rolled a six-sided die in private and reported the outcome. For every point reported, the soldier received an additional half-hour early release from the army base on Thursday afternoon. We find that the higher a soldier’s military entrance score, the more honest he is on average. We replicate this finding on a sample of 156 civilians paid in cash for their die reports. Furthermore, the civilian experiments reveal that two measures of cognitive ability predict honesty, whereas general self-report honesty questions and a consistency check among them are of no value. We provide a rationale for the relationship between cognitive ability and honesty and discuss its generalizability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-155
Number of pages26
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive ability
  • High non-monetary stakes
  • Honesty
  • Soldiers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Clever enough to tell the truth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this