An application of attribution and equity theories to tax evasion behavior

Steven Kaplan, Philip Reckers, Kim D. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Traditional economic theory often has been utilized in an attempt to explain tax evasion behavior. Although economic consequences are important factors in the understanding of tax evasion behavior, they alone do not appear adequate to describe and predict the phenomenon. The results of two experiments which apply two social psychological theories, attribution theory and equity theory, to tax evasion judgments are reported. In the first experiment, the effects of personal need and degree of societal consensus were investigated. Both variables significantly affected recommended penalty judgments. In the second experiment, the effects of societal need and distinctiveness were studied. Neither societal need nor distinctiveness affected recommended penalty judgments. However, a significant interaction effect was found concerning subjects' behavioral intentions to evade. The present research suggests that both attribution theory and equity theory may be helpful in formulating hypotheses and enhancing our understanding of tax evasion behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-476
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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