At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers conducted an experiment that involved placing six cans of Coca-Cola in communal student refrigerators across campus. In those refrigerators, they also placed plates of six $1 bills. When the researchers returned to see what remained in the refrigerators, the Coca-Colas had disappeared, but the dollar bills remained. Why was it that students would steal the sodas, but they wouldn’t steal the money?
The experiment was devised by Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University. Ariely is New York Times best-selling author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home. In those books, Ariely uses his experiments in behavioral economics to show how humans defy reason in both personal and professional scenarios.
At 10:45 a.m. Monday in the Amphitheater, Ariely will present some of the findings from his latest book, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves, to kick off Week Seven’s theme, “The Ethics of Cheating.” The book showcases the surprising ways humans rationalize dishonest behaviors, usually without even realizing it.