A recent study on truthfulness by a group of researches from the University of East Anglia revealed that Chinese people were found to be the most dishonest while British people the least dishonest.
The study had more than 1,500 participants from 15 different countries take an online survey that involved two experiments specifically designed to measure honesty levels and to determine variations of the trait between countries.
The author of the study, Dr. David Hugh-Jones, carried out the surveys across countries that varied in regions, development status and social trust levels: 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 of the survey had participants flip a coin and report whether the coin had landed on “heads” or “tails”. The participants were informed that if their coin landed on “heads”, they would receive a $3 or $5 reward. Should more than 50% of any of the participating individuals from any given country reported heads, it would prove dishonesty.
The survey showed that 70% of the survey participants from China lied while only 3.4% of British participants lied about the result. The four least truthful countries in Asia, according to the survey, were— China, Japan, South Korea and India.
For the second experiment of the survey, participants were asked to complete a music quiz to which they would also be rewarded financially if they got all the answers right. They were explicitly instructed to not search the Internet for help and were to check a box after each question that confirmed their answers were their own, and not from an online source. However, what participants did not know, was that three of the questions were set to the upmost difficulty and it would be highly unlikely that any of them would get the answers right unless they searched it up online.
Participants from Japan were found to be the most honest in their answers to the quiz, while those in Britain were seconded in being most truthful. Turkey was found to be the most deceitful in their answers, with China taking second place.
“Differences in honesty were found between countries, but this did not necessarily correspond to what people expected,” Dr. Hugh-Jones says. “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.”
When participants were asked to rate and choose which country they thought would be the most dishonest in their coin flip answers, participants chose Greece, which was ironically, one of the most honest in their answers to the test. All the countries, regardless of their measured honesty, were found to expect others to be less dishonest.
According to Dr. Hugh-Jones, the difference between Asian and other countries in their coin flip answers may have to do more with culture, such as gambling attitudes, rather than differences in honesty.
“People’s beliefs about the honesty of their fellow citizens, and those in other countries, may or may not be accurate, and these beliefs can affect how they interact,” he says. “For example, a country’s willingness to support debt bailouts may be affected by stereotypes about people in the countries needing help. So it is important to understand how these beliefs are formed.”
Sources : Nextshark