Media negativity bias and tax compliance: experimental evidence

Milos Fisar, Tommaso Reggiani, Fabio Sabatini, Jiří Špalek

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


We study the impact of the media negativity bias on tax compliance. Through a framed laboratory experiment, we assess how the exposure to biased news about government action afects compliance in a repeated taxation game. Subjects treated with positive news are signifcantly more compliant than the control group. Instead, the exposure to negative news does not prompt any signifcant reaction compared to the neutral condition, suggesting that participants may perceive the media negativ‑ ity bias in the selection and tonality of news as the norm rather than the exception. Overall, our results suggest that biased news provision is a constant source of psy‑ chological priming and plays a vital role in taxpayers’ compliance decisions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Tax and Public Finance
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502024 Public economy

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