20 d’octubre 2020

On being honest in politics

 Eliciting preferences for truth-telling in a survey of politicians

From PNAS: 

Voters who would like to accurately evaluate the performance of politicians in office often rely on incomplete information and are uncertain whether politicians’ words can be trusted. Honesty is highly valued in politics because politicians who are averse to lying should in principle provide more trustworthy information. Despite the importance of honesty in politics, there is no scientific evidence on politicians’ lying aversion. We measured preferences for truth-telling in a sample of 816 elected politicians and study observable characteristics associated with honesty. We find that in our sample, politicians who are averse to lying have lower reelection rates, suggesting that honesty may not pay off in politics.

Therefore, in this case, truth-telling is a dominant non-rational strategy in politics. We still do need more evidence. Maybe the next presidential election will provide us a confirmation of this article.

Fact-Checker from WP

Bill Brandt at KBR-Mapfre Barcelona