A new study done by Dr. Valerio Capraro from the University of Middlesex showed people are more naturally honest than psychologists suggest. Dr. Capraro recruited people from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Participants were either “receivers” or “senders” in two experiments. Totally 312 senders were grouped into two different categories. Each sender had a choice of telling a receiver which group they belong to. If a sender tells the truth, both receiver and sender will get $0.10, but if a sender chooses to lie he would get $0.20, and the other person would get $0.09.
In a “control” experiment, senders were not assigned to two groups and didn’t have the option to lie or tell the truth. They were simply allowed to give the other person $0.10 and get the same amount or give the other person $0.09 and get $0.20. The first option was altruistic and the second one was a selfish choice.
In both cases, half participants who were senders had to decide what to do in 5 seconds and the other half had 30 seconds to make a decision.
In the control experiment, 25% of 372 participants went with the altruistic option, but in the first experiment, 56% of participants told the truth under time pressure, while 44% of those who had more time to think told the truth.
According to results of this study, telling the truth is the instinctive response, while deliberation seems to be linked to selfish behavior.
Dr. Capraro plans to repeat this experiment in a laboratory under more controlled conditions.
The Economist, Global Times