So for example, in one of our experiments we found that, the basic experiment looked like this, people have a sheet of paper with 20 simple math problems that they can solve all of them if they had enough time, but we don't give people enough time.
What makes somebody lie sometimes and tell the truth other times?
When people face this question about why people lie sometimes and don't lie other times, the common answer has to do with something about the internal state about the person.
In particular, one of the things we find is being mentally exhausted gets people to cheat more, and here is the finding: There is something called depletion.
Depletion is the idea that when we exercise self control, when we try to resist temptation, we try to resist a cake and a cookie and Facebook and Youtube and saying something nasty to someone and so on.
As we try and resist temptation more and more and more our ability to resist temptation diminishes until eventually we kind of collapse and give in. As we get tired by resisting temptation in all kinds of aspects of our lives we end up falling to temptation to a higher degree and cheat and lie to a higher degree.
So, going back to the question about why people lie sometimes and not other times, there are clearly changes that happen within a person over time, but what we find is that an even bigger effect has to do with the environmental circumstances that are around us. Dan is also a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University.In this interview, he talks about why people lie in some situations but not others, why students cheat on tests when they know they could suffer later in life, and more.What that means is that when we have an environment in which people can distance themselves from the act of cheating, they're not cheating for money, they're cheating for a piece of plastic, all of a sudden this environment can facilitate to a much higher degree.There are many other influences like this and what this means is that we need to think about the environment, we need to think about regulation, we need to think about rules, we need to think about professional cause of ethics because those things eventually have much more to do with how people behave than individual personality.So, of course, if you work in a bank and your bank people are perfectly honest, and then you have other banks where people try all the funny procedures and they don't have Chinese walls and they sell stocks that are not good to their clients to take them off of their hands and so on.All of a sudden if you're honest, you would do well by your clients, but you would be less wealthy.Why do students cheat on tests when it will effect them later on in their lives?So first of all, I think that students for sure, but most people in general, don't think much about what will happen later in lives, we have this general problem of thinking about short-term and not thinking about long-term and this is everywhere, right, it's about why we over-eat and under-exercise, and under-save and text and drive, don't take our medication on time and have unprotected sex, all of those behaviors are due to the fact that we don't think about long-term.But, in another condition, what we do is we ask people to shred the piece of paper, and when they come to us not to say “Mr.Experimenter, I solved X problems, give me X dollars”, but to say “Mr.