The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves

The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone - Especially Ourselves

by Dan Ariely
     
 

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The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an honest look at ourselves.

  • Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat?
  • How do companies

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an honest look at ourselves.

  • Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat?
  • How do companies pave the way for dishonesty?
  • Does collaboration make us more honest or less so?
  • Does religion improve our honesty?

Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it's the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.

Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it's actually the irrational forces that we don't take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless puffed résumÉs, hidden commissions, and knockoff purses. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.

But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
In this captivating and astute study, behavioral scientist and professor Ariely (Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions) turns his hand to the topic of human honesty, or lack thereof. Through a series of tests and experiments, Ariely breaks down economist Gary Becker’s Simple Model of Rational Crime (SMORC), which suggests that we evaluate situations using a rational calculation of the costs and benefits of engaging in dishonest behavior while maintaining a positive view of ourselves. Because Ariely believes this model to be incomplete, he energetically sets out to determine which forces (psychological, environmental, social) cause people to cheat, and then applies this improved understanding to doing something about dishonesty. In addition to his experimental subjects, he examines the behavior of golfers, pharmaceutical reps, finance professionals, and others. In his characteristic spry, cheerful style, Ariely delves deep into the conundrum of human (dis)honesty in the hopes of discovering ways to help us control our behavior and improve our outcomes. Agent: James Levine. (June)
Library Journal - Library Journal
What motivates dishonesty? In his latest book, Ariely (psychology & behavioral economics, Duke Univ.; The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home) explains the psychological and economic factors that drive people to lie and cheat. He explores the rational cost-benefit forces that propel dishonesty, such as the amount of money to be gained, the probability of being caught, and conflicts of interest. To illustrate his argument, Ariely cites examples ranging from the Enron scandal to Ponzi schemes to owning fake designer bags. Along with a list of additional readings, he provides descriptions of research studies, including his own, to support his theories. VERDICT Ariely writes thoughtfully and his sense of humor is evident throughout the book. A quick and easy read, this is for anyone who wants to learn about the psychological and economic causes of dishonesty. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/11.]—Tina Chan, Penfield Lib., SUNY Oswego
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews
Ariely (Psychology/Psychology and Behavioral Economics/Duke Univ.; The Upside of Irrationality, 2010, etc.) explores how honest we are, how honest we think we are and every white lie in the middle. Conventional wisdom suggests that the greatest concentration of dishonest Americans can be found in the Washington, D.C., area. While it's true that our leaders provide us with egregious examples of dishonesty, a more nuanced look at how we define the concept reveals that our moral compasses may be less dependable than we would like to believe. Ariely's prior books regarding irrationality flow into his research around what motivates people's dishonesty. He argues against the idea that deciding whether or not to cheat is fueled by a cost/benefit analysis. He also finds that the notion of the decision-making process being largely internal is also inaccurate and shares examples of corporate culture's enabling of dishonesty. It's far simpler for the media to identify the Kenneth Lay in the story than to explain how hundreds of employees--unlikely to all be maliciously and intentionally undermining the financial security of thousands of people--could participate in an organizational structure that rewards the bending of the rules. Lawyers round up on billable hours, and those who stick to an honest assessment of how much they work are culled from the firm come evaluation time. Ariely also argues convincingly that society's move toward a cashless society is lessening the moral impact when a few people fudge the numbers slightly--it eventually adds up to billions of dollars in losses. The author dissects dishonesty in schools, relationships and workplaces and examines institutional and cultural safeguards and their levels of effectiveness. Ariely writes in a conversational tone one might associate with a popular teacher, providing readers with a working knowledge of what shapes our ethics--or lack thereof.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780007477326
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2012

Meet the Author

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, with appointments at the Fuqua School of Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Economics, and the School of Medicine. Dan earned one PhD in cognitive psychology and another PhD in business administration. He is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His work has been featured in many outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and others. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Sumi, and their two creative children, Amit and Neta.

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