The Dishonesty of Honest People (Paper Summary)

1585 words 7 pages
Dishonesty of Honest People: A theory of Self-Concept maintenance.
Main idea

People think of themselves as honest.
Yes, in reality dishonesty pays quite generously (give examples)
The paper demonstrates that their convenience people become dishonest enough to profit but also behave honestly enough to maintain their self-concept.

Why are People Dishonest?

Origins of theory date from Adam Smith/Thomas Hobbes using Homo Economicus as a base reference. Aka “Rational Man” who acts consciously and deliberately to trade off benefits and costs of dishonest acts.
Within a dishonest act there is normally a balance of tradeoffs: 1. the amount that is to be gained 2. Likelihood of getting caught 3. Magnitude of
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Yet in the first case, perhaps the first test subjects believed that there was in fact a code enforced?

Recycle group 1(50 cents): Possibility to cheat: They cheated relative to the ctrl (16.5% of avg max magnitude).
Recycle+ token group (medium of immediate exchange): cheated significantly more than the recycle group

Experinment 4: Tested that given the opportunity to be dishonest, participants would only be dishonest to an extent that does not force them to update their self-concept negatively.

Comment [MS7]: They state that claiming more tokens instead of claiming more money offered more categorization malleability (thus indivs interpreted their dishonesty in a more self-serving manner)thus reducing the negative selfsignal.

Setup: Matrix task (can cheat), personality test, prediction task, Matrix task (can’t cheat)
Control group 1(50 cents): No possibility to cheat on both matrix tasks: as expected
Recycle group 1(50 cents): Possibility to cheat matrix task 1: cheated more on matrix task 1
(14.8% of the max maginitude), this however diminished in the second matrix task. ( avg performance on second matrix task didn’t differ much from control group)
Prediction level:
No sig difference between ctrl and recycle groups (coupled with differing results from both matrix tests, this means that recycle group were aware that they had over claimed in the first matrix task.)
Personality tests:
Both ctrl and recycle groups had high