Debate and Discussion

Wallet Test (testing people's honesty)
suncrafter at 12:28AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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A sociological experiment was conducted in Illinois called the “Wallet Test”. You can read about it at http://www.wallettest.com/

The researchers deliberately dropped 100 identical wallets (containing money and ID) in public places to test honesty.

The test results were broken down by age, gender and race —-> http://www.wallettest.com/Lost_Wallet_Test/Results_Page.html





What I'd like to know is why did men steal over twice as much as women?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 4:04PM
ozoneocean at 12:59AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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But was it actually “stealing”? You have to look at it in terms of how they “saw” the act: Some fool loses something and it's their good luck that they happened to find a wallet. :)

While those that didn't choose to keep what they found might have been thinking in terms of how the person who lost the wallet feels, and that they'd be happy to have it back… But in either case I wouldn't say it's essentially matter of honesty, rather it's more a case of being selfish.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:28PM
mlai at 6:18AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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The results would have been different if the photo ID in the wallet featured an attractive woman.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:05PM
Jonko at 6:26AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Could a part of it be because of financial pressures? What immediately comes to mind for me is the “the man always has to pay” rule. I don't understand why that still exists in our society, but it does, and maybe that puts a burden on guys that makes it more likely for them to take money from a wallet they found.

Just a suggestion….
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
Vagabond at 7:30AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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The thing that bugs me about the results is that it doesn't tell us how the subjects were selected, nor anything about the places that they were dropping them.

Ok, so they got close to a 50-50 percentage when it comes down to gender. But how did they select them? Was this literally, “Hey, let's drop a wallet in front of that guy… oh wait, we have too many guys already,” or was it based around picking a set number of people in a public place? (ie, 4 men and 4 women from this quadrant) Because if we're doing random selection, getting the ratio it did is a little suspicious.

Which is the other thing that bugs me; they never really define “public place.” I'm not trying to stereotype, but a “public place” in the poorer side of town may have subjects that act much differently than in the better side. Since they don't tell us what the places are, (and I know that I don't know the area of the city they're using) the situation could have been that more males/younger people/black people could have been picked from areas where people may act differently than others.

None of this seems like it's really played scientifically, so I don't see much of what this proves, to be honest.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:38PM
StaceyMontgomery at 8:53AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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I'm confused that the two results are “honest' and ”dishonest.“

For instance, I have a (male) friend who found a wallet that had $40 in it. He kept the money but mailed the wallet and the ID back to the owner anonymously. He felt that the ID was what they really wanted back, and took the $40 for his trouble. If he had picked up one of the ”test“ wallets, I presume they'd have said ”he walked off with it!“ but the truth is more complex.

Actually, I was never sure in my own mind if my friends behavior was ”honest“ or ”dishonest.“

I had a partner once who was involved in setting up experiments like this once - but we were always appalled at the poor experimental design that was used. You have to design such an experiment very carefully - and if the people who ran it use vague words like ”honest“ and ”dishonest" in their results - well, its a very bad sign.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
TnTComic at 8:54AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Chalk it up to empathy.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:31PM
Hawk at 9:34AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Jonko
Could a part of it be because of financial pressures? What immediately comes to mind for me is the “the man always has to pay” rule. I don't understand why that still exists in our society, but it does, and maybe that puts a burden on guys that makes it more likely for them to take money from a wallet they found.

Just a suggestion….

You know, that theory does make some sense, but as I've learned about how much women spend on cosmetics, shoes, and feminine hygiene products, I feel like the burden of cost starts to run even between genders. It sounds like it's kind of expensive to be a girl.

…but now that you mention it, why are feminists fighting for higher salaries but not fighting to pay dinner check? HMMMM??? :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
kingofsnake at 9:57AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Hawk
You know, that theory does make some sense, but as I've learned about how much women spend on cosmetics, shoes, and feminine hygiene products, I feel like the burden of cost starts to run even between genders. It sounds like it's kind of expensive to be a girl.

I also wear shoes. Just because I don't blow my paycheck on them…

Girls seem to buy alot of shoes because they like to accesorize more than they do in order to look good on a date. Men have haircare products and cologne too. You make it sound like the meal is the only money we sink into a date, whereas they HAVE TO blow all this extra money on things to make them more aestheticly pleasing that guys don't.



It also depends where they dropped the wallets. I imagine a small town in the northeast would have a better return rate then the bronx. It would also probably be affected by the financial status of the person who found the wallet.

100 wallets just isn't enough to test the theory, there are just too many mitigating factors. You'd need thousands. And you'd need to categorize every enviromental cause that could affect the outcome.

Generally though, I think the precent of honest ladies would still be better than the precent of honest men. But then, I'm a big fan of the ladies.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
Priest_Revan at 10:04AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Wouldn't you have to consider the possibility of where they dropped the wallet and who they did it near.

For example, if they dropped the wallet in the “ghetto”, don't expect to see it again… but if it's dropped in a more wealthy area, you'll probably see the wallet again.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:48PM
TnTComic at 10:05AM, Oct. 2, 2007
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kingofsnake
It also depends where they dropped the wallets. I imagine a small town in the northeast would have a better return rate then the bronx.

That's very true.

I think it was “The Human Animal”, but there was a program that performed an interesting experiment.

They had a person lie on the sidewalk in some city. People walked around, stepped over, and generally ignored the person.

They had the same person lie on the sidewalk in a town. Immediately, people were giving him attention, asking if he was okay.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:31PM
crazyninny at 1:06PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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I think its becuase women still have that mothering hormone in them that wants to make sure that everything is okay. Like, returning wallets. ^_^
BUT, not ever woman returend the wallets. And even if a lot more guys stole them, there still was more who returned them to the owners.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:48AM
mapaghimagsik at 3:34PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Priest_Revan
Wouldn't you have to consider the possibility of where they dropped the wallet and who they did it near.

For example, if they dropped the wallet in the “ghetto”, don't expect to see it again… but if it's dropped in a more wealthy area, you'll probably see the wallet again.

So you're saying poor people are less honest than rich people?

Did you mean “ghetto” as in “where the blacks are” Or just “where the poor is”

Just asking.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
Priest_Revan at 3:47PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Priest_Revan
Wouldn't you have to consider the possibility of where they dropped the wallet and who they did it near.

For example, if they dropped the wallet in the “ghetto”, don't expect to see it again… but if it's dropped in a more wealthy area, you'll probably see the wallet again.

So you're saying poor people are less honest than rich people?

Did you mean “ghetto” as in “where the blacks are” Or just “where the poor is”

Just asking.

I mean “ghetto” as in, the projects, the bronx, S. West Detroit, most of L.A., etc.

I can't be racist against black people… considering I am one.

And yes, I am pointing out that in an environment such as those that I listed and if you are in a more… poor situation, you would more tempted to take the wallet. Family experience taught me that.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:48PM
mapaghimagsik at 3:49PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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I can't be racist against black people… considering I am one.


Actually, that's not true. Anyone can be racist, and can hate their own.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
Priest_Revan at 3:52PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Priest_Revan
I can't be racist against black people… considering I am one.


Actually, that's not true. Anyone can be racist, and can hate their own.

You know what I mean.

Damn.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:48PM
TheMidge28 at 4:34PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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mlai
The results would have been different if the photo ID in the wallet featured an attractive woman.

There is a lot to be said to what mlai said…a guy seeing a hot id photo would be more prone to step on up and return the wallet as opposed to some joker or elderly person.

its all about motivation.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:21PM
mapaghimagsik at 5:40PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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mapaghimagsik
Priest_Revan
I can't be racist against black people… considering I am one.


Actually, that's not true. Anyone can be racist, and can hate their own.

You know what I mean.

Damn.

I know what you wrote, not what you mean. Write what you mean, and I'll know what you mean :D

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
Priest_Revan at 6:31PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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mapaghimagsik
Priest_Revan
mapaghimagsik
Priest_Revan
I can't be racist against black people… considering I am one.


Actually, that's not true. Anyone can be racist, and can hate their own.

You know what I mean.

Damn.

I know what you wrote, not what you mean. Write what you mean, and I'll know what you mean :D




Usually, I try not to be too specific on silly stuff like that.

I expect most people to understand…
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:48PM
Ronson at 6:47PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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True story…

My wife and two of my friends and I went to New York City for a day. Somewhere between dinner at Sbarro's Pizza and the end of the play we were seeing, my friend lost his wallet. It had over $100 in it, his ID and credit cards. This occurred on Times Square someplace, between 40 and 46 street, I think.

A week later it turned up in my friends mailbox. Money, ID, credit cards and everything. Of course, they had cancelled the cards already just to be sure but they were still mightily relieved.

THIS SORT OF THING HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

People are generally very honest, and the more you lose, the more they empathize with you. In fact, I believe a corollary study of the wallet test showed that the more money that was in the wallet the more likely people were to return the entire sum.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
TheMidge28 at 8:12PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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Ronson
True story…

My wife and two of my friends and I went to New York City for a day. Somewhere between dinner at Sbarro's Pizza and the end of the play we were seeing, my friend lost his wallet. It had over $100 in it, his ID and credit cards. This occurred on Times Square someplace, between 40 and 46 street, I think.

A week later it turned up in my friends mailbox. Money, ID, credit cards and everything. Of course, they had cancelled the cards already just to be sure but they were still mightily relieved.

THIS SORT OF THING HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

People are generally very honest, and the more you lose, the more they empathize with you. In fact, I believe a corollary study of the wallet test showed that the more money that was in the wallet the more likely people were to return the entire sum.


again motivation…more money, more of a prospect of receiving a reward.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:21PM
MagickLorelai at 8:34PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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They set up cameras at 100 places around town, and randomly dropped the wallets in front of those cameras. They didn't do it “in front of” anyone particularly, they just left the wallets behind. It was by sheer chance that the percentages were even.

They actually break more of it down, including gender, age, and race. They had no agenda in mind except to see what would happen, and how many people would return the wallet(or do something to turn it in, like say the store “lost and found” if they found it in front of a store).

The MAJORITY of people turned the wallets in. Some kept the wallets, or returned the wallets minus the money. They also included fake coupons for $50 cash, including a number to call to redeem it(it was the guy who was doing the experiment). Some people actually called in trying to redeem it, even going so far as to claim to be the owner of the wallet.

It really is an interesting study into human behavior.

I don't know why men would steal more than woman, except possibly there's more of an expectation on women to be “nice”. If a woman isn't nice, she's immediately labeled a bitch. (Guys are labeled dicks for similar reasons…) I don't really know. ^^

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:50PM
Ronson at 8:51PM, Oct. 2, 2007
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TheMidge28
again motivation…more money, more of a prospect of receiving a reward.

bzzzt!

I forgot to mention that the package containing the wallet had no return address and no note. The wallet was returned anonymously. No reward would be possible to send.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't a reward. For most of us, the idea of setting something right - no matter how small - is the reward. I'm sure the person sending the wallet empathized with my friend and knew darn well how happy it's return would be.

Look at your own life. Do you only do things for monetary reward? (Not you, of course, but anyone)

We are not as some would have us characterized. Mankind is a social animal, and has a great capacity to care for eachother. There are aberations - sociopaths and the like who prey on our trusting nature. But overall, people like to be treated decently and people like to treat others decently.

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
DAJB at 12:34AM, Oct. 3, 2007
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I'd suggest this may have far less to do with honesty than it has to do with being sceptical and suspicious of others.

If you find a wallet with no contact details what do you do with it? Hand it in to the police? How many of us believe that wallet would ever find its way back to the rightful owner? And, if you assume it wouldn't, where is the logic in just handing it over to someone (uniformed or otherwise) who has no more right to it than you do?

Personally, I probably would hand the wallet in. But I wouldn't necessarily assume that those who wouldn't are motivated by dishonesty.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
StaceyMontgomery at 4:36AM, Oct. 3, 2007
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>

Perhaps.

But I have found that just because people say they dont have an agenda is not the same thing as it being true. These “tests” are easily skewed by what you want to find. You have to be vigorous if you want to pull your own biases out of it - and for some reason, very few people want to be rigorous when working with their own biases.

Oh, and you can *totally* trust me on this - I have no agenda here at all!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
Vagabond at 3:35PM, Oct. 3, 2007
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They set up cameras at 100 places around town, and randomly dropped the wallets in front of those cameras. They didn't do it “in front of” anyone particularly, they just left the wallets behind. It was by sheer chance that the percentages were even.

Ok, so it was just good ol' luck that the gender was split close to 50-50. Fair enough.


That still tells me absolutely nothing about the public places, the demographs of the city, the average crime rates… all of these are things that need to be accounted for. At the very least, to be taken seriously, you have to do a better job of explaining whether the wallet's being dropped in front of the welfare office or the country club. (Note: I'm not saying that as a means to say that the poor are automatically less honest than the rich. I just wanted to give an overexaggerated example to show that I think there is a relationship between the location and the finder's actions)

Hell, I can take this even further: why didn't they break it down by groups, too? Don't you think that it's possible that people are going to act differently by themselves than if they were in a group?

This is too loosey-goosey to explain anything. All it's doing is allowing for people to fill in the blanks with their own stereotypical attitudes of why it's happening, which is what a number of you all are doing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:38PM
marine at 4:47AM, Oct. 6, 2007
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If you're broke and you find a stack of money laying around in the middle of nowhere, and you've not seen anybody around asking about a wallet, why not take it?

I wouldn't even know where to turn something like that in. I'm not going anywhere near a police station or court house or even a mall security center, so I'd probably just leave it alone and assume someone was watching me for a lame social experiment.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:52PM
nibbi at 8:23AM, Oct. 6, 2007
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I can't believe the number of you who said they didn't think it was a question of honesty.

The money belonged to some one. Not the person who picked it up. They knew that and they took it. I feel like were in pre-school….

“Stealing is taking something that doesn't belong to you without asking.”

You can justify it any way you want.

I'm not saying I'm perfect but at least I can admit when I do something wrong.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:12PM
ozoneocean at 8:55AM, Oct. 6, 2007
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I could also say that is quite a level of kindergarten morality. ;)
Kids see things in terms of black and white. The more educated and older you get, the more you realise that life just doesn't work that way.
TNTComic said it best in his first post: it's about empathy.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:28PM
Black_Kitty at 7:58AM, Oct. 8, 2007
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There's a whole list of factors that could have played a role in this but I do agree with empathy. I also think a sense of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour have a lot to do with it as well (and that in itself have a lot to do with upbringing, the culture you live in, and personal experience.)

But yeah people do return wallets and such without monetary motivation. My mother had her driver's license returned to her anonymously and I once lost my camera briefly in the States…only to find that someone had given it to a security guard.
  
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:24AM

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