In The News (A While Ago) : Perceived Dishonesty

Sometimes you come across a news story that, for some reason, has just gone viral despite being years old.  Today I came across a story that wasn’t going viral but was mentioned in passing by someone else and I thought it too good not to share.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia quizzed 1,500 people from 15 countries in an online survey in 2015, which involved two experiments designed to measure honest behaviour.

Firstly, participants were asked to flip a coin and state whether it landed on heads or tails.  They knew if they reported that it landed on heads, they would be rewarded with $3 (£2) or $5 (£3.50). Obviously there’s a 50% chance of heads, so if more than 50% of those surveyed reported heads, the researchers could see cheating.

They also did a devilishly difficult music quiz with a box that the respondents needed to check to say that they hadn’t used t’interweb to help.

The country that came out consistently worse for cheating was China, while Great Britain was the best for honesty on the financial test and second best on the music quiz.  However, when asked how honest they thought their compatriots would be, the Brits expected their countrymen to be less honest than any nationality other than Koreans.

Perhaps the next question should have been about how self-righteous each nationality was.

I just thought that it was an interesting story to share as an example of how one sees themselves when compared to others.  One of the theories about the perceived dishonesty might be constant exposure to stories of that dishonesty locally rather than globally.  Either way, it can affect our relationships when we’ve already formed opinions, and that isn’t necessarily always a good thing.

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