Wednesday, September 26 2018
A Wall Street Journal article focused on why we engage in dishonest behavior. It told the story of a man who was locked out of his house and called a locksmith to help him get in. The man was surprised at how easily the locksmith was able to open the door. The locksmith said that locks are only on doors to keep honest people honest. He added that 1% of the people are honest and will never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest. He said the purpose of locks is for the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door . . . if it had no lock.
In order to test the factors why people are dishonest and cheat the system, researches created a controlled experiment. Folks were given a number of math problems to complete in a given time. Then one group was told to put their answer sheets in a shredder and to simply tell the person up front how many they got right. They were paid for how many they reported getting right.
However, the shredder did not really shred the test, so that the researchers could compare how many the person said they got right with how many they actually got right. Those who had the shredder reported on average of a third more correct answers than those who did not shred theirs.
The researchers then looked at factors that might lead someone to be less honest about their results. In one case, they split 450 participants in half. With the first group, they simply asked them to recall the Ten Commandments before taking the test. In the other group they asked them to recall ten books they read in high school. With those who recalled books they had read, there was no difference - they cheated the same amount. But, for those who were asked to recall the Ten Commandments - there was no cheating whatsoever! This applied to self-declared atheists, as well. Simply remembering that there was a moral code had a profound effect.
|Prayer for Today
Loving God, help us to remember that You have graciously given us guidance for how to live our lives with our neighbors fairly and well. In the strong name of Jesus the Christ we pray. Amen.