Research on Human Honesty

ID SCHNEIER:6A86DB8407F8E5C5DFF721257340B1BE
Type schneier
Reporter Bruce Schneier
Modified 2019-07-05T11:15:21


New research from Science: "Civic honesty around the globe":

> Abstract: Civic honesty is essential to social capital and economic development, but is often in conflict with material self-interest. We examine the trade-off between honesty and self-interest using field experiments in 355 cities spanning 40 countries around the globe. We turned in over 17,000 lost wallets with varying amounts of money at public and private institutions, and measured whether recipients contacted the owner to return the wallets. In virtually all countries citizens were more likely to return wallets that contained more money. Both non-experts and professional economists were unable to predict this result. Additional data suggest our main findings can be explained by a combination of altruistic concerns and an aversion to viewing oneself as a thief, which increase with the material benefits of dishonesty.

I am surprised, too.