The Honest Truth About Dishonesty – Dan Ariely: Review

Great read. Not life changing but certainly some awesome tid bits. With all the counter-traditional intelligence emerging via behavioural economics, knowledge and understanding of this calibre has almost come to be expected. And of a guy like Dan, almost certainly expected.

Of all the finer points about how we cheat and in what situations the average person cheats most, there is an overarching theory that replaces the previous doctrine. Cheating was previously viewed as a cost-benefit analysis between the probability of getting caught and the reward at hand.
However, the case is made (using very compelling and smart experiments) that humans do not cheat in this manner at all but that the vast majority of us cheat as much as we can (no matter how unlikely it is that we will be caught)  so long as we can say to ourselves that we are honest people.

So, this means that the same person will cheat more under different sets of conditions. And these conditions don’t have much to do with probabilities around getting caught, but more-so around having ‘excuses’ for why one may or may not cheat and to what extent. Am I stealing? Or do I believe that person or that organization owes me something? Am I cheating for me? Or my friends? Or how about my less fortunate friends? It’s all a matter of what we see in the mirror at the end of the day.

I personally think it’s compelling work because it scratches the surface, at an interesting angle, of how humans never really know what’s going on in their subconscious which leads to blurriness as to the true nature of our decisions.


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