Who cheats more: Americans, Israelis, Italians or the Chinese? Politicians or Wall Street bankers?


People cheated about the same amount in every country tested.

Via Dan Ariely’s fascinating new book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves:

I grew up in Israel, I especially wanted to see how Israelis measured up (I admit that I suspected that Israelis would cheat more than Americans). But as it turned out, our Israeli participants cheated in the matrix experiments just as much as the Americans. We decided to check other nationalities, too. Shirley Wang, one of my Chinese collaborators, was convinced that Chinese people would cheat more than Americans. But again, the Chinese showed the same levels of dishonesty. Francesca Gino, from Italy, was positive that Italians would cheat the most. “Come to Italy, and we will show you what cheating is all about,” she said in her fantastic accent. But she was proven wrong too. We discovered the same results in Turkey, Canada, and England. In fact, the amount of cheating seems to be equal in every country— at least in those we’ve tested so far.

One group did cheat notably more — Wall Street guys:

I should point out that throughout all of our cross-cultural experiments, there was one time we did find a difference. At some point Racheli Barkan and I carried out our experiment in a bar in Washington, D.C., where many congressional staffers gather. And we carried out the same experiment in a bar in New York City where many of the customers are Wall Street bankers. That was the one place where we found a cultural difference. Who do you think cheated more, the politicians or the bankers? I was certain that it was going to be the politicians, but our results showed the opposite: the bankers cheated about twice as much. (But before you begin suspecting your banker friends more and your politician friends less, you should take into account that the politicians we tested were junior politicians— mainly congressional staffers. So they had plenty of room for growth and development.)

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