Washington: In a recent study on how people around the globe decide to return or not the lost wallets, researchers were surprised to find that people were honest in returning the wallets having greater amounts of money more often.
According to the study published in the Journal of Science, honesty increased as the incentive to cheat (higher wallet value) went up. Honesty is important for economic development as relates to contracts and taxes for example, and for how society functions in relationships more generally.
Alain Cohn et al, one of the researchers, wanted to more rigorously evaluate trade-offs between honesty and self-interest, teasing apart the motivations for the former among people handling ‘missing’ property.
Overall across the globe, 51 per cent of those who were handed a wallet with the smaller amount of money reported it. When the wallet contained a large sum of money, the rate of return increased to 72 per cent.
The results, a measure of overall rates of civic honesty across the globe, offer a demonstration of how the people’s inclinations to show concern for others can be greater than their preferences for self, though that’s not the whole story, researchers said.
“The psychological forces — an aversion to not viewing oneself as a thief — can be stronger than the financial ones,” said co-author Michel Andre Marechal.