Disclosing advisor’s interests neither hurts nor helps

An informed advisor may have incentives to send a biased advice to an uninformed decisionmaker. We set up an experiment to study whether disclosure of the advisor’s interests can foster truthfulness and trust. A key feature of our experiment is that we measure how advisors expect decisionmakers to react to their advice. This allows us to distinguish between strategic and nonstrategic (i.e. moral) reactions to disclosure by advisors.We find that advisors do not expect decision makers to react drastically to disclosure. Also, advisors do not find deceiving morally more acceptable with disclosure than with no disclosure. Overall, disclosure neither hurts nor helps; deceptive advice and mistrust are equally frequent with as without disclosure. Relative to the aims of disclosure policies this is ‘bad news’; relative to studies suggesting that disclosure may actually increase the rate of deception this may be regarded as ‘good news’.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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