Do People Everywhere Cheat?



Posted by Ed 2 mths ago
Two recent studies find similar levels of dishonesty across countries.

Are people in some countries more generally dishonest than people in other countries? This question has been examined by two international teams of researchers—and both teams have come to a similar conclusion.

In 2015, David Pascual-Ezama at Universidad Complutense Madrid and his colleagues investigated dishonesty in 16 countries.1 They recruited 90 university students in each country to play a coin-flipping game.

The game consisted of a single flip of a coin that had a black side and a white side. If the coin landed with the white side up, the student received a chocolate truffle as a prize.

Each student flipped the coin in private and then reported the result to an experimenter. The experimenter didn't know if a particular student reported the result truthfully or not. But—and here’s the clever part—the experimenter could accurately estimate the level of cheating in the group as a whole by simply counting the total number of chocolate truffles handed out as prizes.

If 90 students flip a coin, the laws of probability dictate that about half (45) of the coins will land on white and receive a prize. If almost all of the students report a prize-winning result, then we have evidence for a high level of cheating in that group.

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