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London - It’s not just the children we leave at home when we head to the office. A study has found we leave our morals there too.
A simple coin toss experiment suggests we’re happier to fib while in the office than we are in the comfort of our house.
As part of the Oxford University research, 658 people were randomly contacted in their own homes and asked to flip a coin.
Each was told that if the coin landed tails-up, they would receive £12 or a gift voucher – while if the coin landed heads-up, they would receive nothing.
Despite the financial incentive and the fact the householders could not be observed the results indicated a high level of honesty, with more than half of the participants reporting the coin landed heads-up. In contrast, similar studies conducted in laboratory situations found 75 percent of participants reported tails-up.
Researchers believe the study shows that while we are unwilling to lie at home, we are more likely to bend the truth when at work or in social settings.
Dr Johannes Abeler said: “The fact that the financial incentive to lie was outweighed by the perceived cost of lying shows just how honest most people are when in their own homes. One theory is that being honest is at the core of how we want to perceive ourselves and is very important to our sense of self identity.
“Why it is so important? It may be to do with the social norms we have been given about what is right and wrong from the moment we could walk and talk.”
All those taking part in the experiments answered questions about their own gender, age, views on honesty and their religious background, suggesting personal attributes play no part on overall levels of honesty.
“This study has implications for policy-makers. For instance, if they want to catch those involved in fraudulent behaviour, perhaps the forms and questionnaires could be designed to reveal more about our personal lives and sense of self-identity,” Dr Abeler said.
“Our experiments showed that if people plainly see that to lie in a given situation would be fraudulent, they shy away from it.
“However, if people are given ‘wriggle room’, they can convince themselves that their behaviour is not fraudulent and this does not attack their sense of who they are.” - Daily Mail