I think of myself as an honest person – who doesn’t? Other than criminals I guess. So, reading The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, I expected insight into the fraudsters constantly on the news from Bernie Madoff to Enron. Instead, I found the mirror turned on myself and thought, "Oh wait, I’ve done that..."
Using simple tests, Dan Ariely, the bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, investigated lying and cheating in everyday situations. It turns out we all lie – but generally just by a little bit. This "fudge factor" is so part of everyday life that we can rationalize our dishonesty to ourselves. Who doesn’t have an extra pair of shoes in the back of the closet hiding from a significant other or occasionally record fewer swings on the golf course? Everybody does it, right? But, while Ariely shows that we fudge the truth, we don’t do it all the time. So, what motivates us to cheat or not? Turns out that simple things can drive dishonesty. Who would have thought that bad service or fake Guccis are tipping points for dishonest actions? But it’s not all bad news – sometimes we only need a gentle reminder of our possible guilt to tip the scales back.
Now I have to find those shoes so I can wear them tomorrow.
One-Minute Reviews aim to bring you frequent short reviews of our most current titles. Check out previous reviews here.