Not cheating, I swear!

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.)

The excerpt comes via the always-excellent Eric Barker, who observes that there didn’t seem to be much cross-cultural differences in willingness to cheat. “In fact,” the book notes, “the amount of cheating seems to be equal in every country — at least in those we’ve tested so far.”

And here’s one description of the type of test Ariely hands out: He gives people a chance to revise their responses by “accidentally” leaking the right answers.