How perception of corruption shapes the willingness to bribe: Evidence from an online experiment in Peru


Does the perception of corruption shape the citizen’s willingness to offer bribes? This study evaluates the socio-psychological determinants of corruption by measuring how different types of messages influence the individual’s willingness to offer bribes for access to public health, social programs, and official documents. Specifically, it investigates whether the perception of corruption affects citizens’ likelihood of engaging in bribery. Using the social norms approach, this research explores the link between messaging, perception, and behavior. An online experiment was conducted in Peru for two weeks between October and November 2021, using social media (Facebook) to recruit participants (n=2584). These participants were divided into two treatment groups and one control group. Those in the treatment groups received informational displays on i) the perception of corruption as widespread in the public sector or ii) corruption as morally wrong. The paper finds that exposure to messages on corruption increases the overall probability of engaging in corruption. Furthermore, the study finds that there are significant differences in bribing behavior based on the different types of public services, gender, and age.

José Incio
José Incio
Ph.D in Political Science

My research interests include democratic backsliding, subnational politics, methodology.