China has performed miserably in a new study assessing dishonesty and truthfulness in different countries around the world, with the UK and Japan coming in as the most honest nations.
The study, titled “Honesty and beliefs about honesty in 15 countries” was conducted by the University of East Anglia in the UK, consisting of two online experiments on 1,500 people taken from 15 different countries.
The countries studied were chosen to provide a mix of regions and levels of development: Brazil, China, Greece, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, Argentina, Denmark, the United Kingdom, India, Portugal, South Africa, and South Korea.
The first experiment involved a simple coin flip test in which everyone was offered a small financial reward if their coin landed on heads. Participants were given the opportunity to lie about the outcome in order to get the reward.
UK citizens were found to be the most truthful in this experiment, with just 3.4% being dishonest about which side their coin landed. China finished dead last with 70% lying.
MOST HONEST COUNTRIES IN THE COIN FLIP TEST:
1. Great Britain
2. South Africa
13. South Korea
The same participants were then asked to complete a music quiz and refrain from looking up the answers on the internet. Three of the questions were deliberately difficult so that if participants got more than one of these correct, it indicated that they had cheated by researching the answers.
Again the UK performed well, finishing second behind Japan. On the other hand, China once again performed poorly, moving up one place to 14th, ahead of only Turkey.
MOST HONEST COUNTRIES IN THE MUSIC QUIZ:
2. Great Britain
6. South Africa
7. South Korea
Dr. David Hugh-Jones, of UEA’s School of Economics, found evidence for dishonesty in all the countries, but said the results clearly showed that levels varied significantly across them.
When participants were asked about who they thought would be the most dishonest country, Greece was singled out. In the coin flip, however, it was one of the most honest, and in the quiz it ranked in the middle. Of the respondents who expected less honesty in their own country, Greece and China were the most pessimistic. Another perhaps more unsurprising finding was that less honest respondents also expected others to be less honest. Dr. Hugh-Jones continued:
Differences in honesty were found between countries, but this did not necessarily correspond to what people expected. Beliefs about honesty seem to be driven by psychological features, such as self-projection. Surprisingly, people were more pessimistic about the honesty of people in their own country than of people in other countries. One explanation for this could be that people are more exposed to news stories about dishonesty taking place in their own country than in others.
He also explained there is increasing interest in the cultural and behavioural roots of economic development. He found that while the honesty of countries related to their economic growth, this relationship was stronger for growth that took place before 1950. Hugh-Jones also concluded that beliefs about other countries’ honesty had little relation to the truth, or even to the average honesty of subjects’ own countries. Instead, they appear to be driven by self-projection and other cognitive biases.
By Daniel Paul