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

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

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by Dan Ariely
     
 

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Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational, examines the contradictory forces that drive us to cheat and keep us honest, in this groundbreaking look at the way we behave: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.

From ticket-fixing in our police

Overview

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational, examines the contradictory forces that drive us to cheat and keep us honest, in this groundbreaking look at the way we behave: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.

From ticket-fixing in our police departments to test-score scandals in our schools, from our elected leaders’ extra-marital affairs to the Ponzi schemes undermining our economy, cheating and dishonesty are ubiquitous parts of our national news cycle—and inescapable parts of the human condition.

Drawing on original experiments and research, in the vein of Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, and Survival of the Sickest, Ariely reveals—honestly—what motivates these irrational, but entirely human, behaviors.

Editorial Reviews

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)
Mehmet Oz
“Dan Ariely ingeniously and delightfully teases out how people balance truthfulness with cheating to create a reality out of wishful-blindness reality. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of your own personal ethics—and those of everybody you know.”
Time.com
“The best-selling author’s creativity is evident throughout. . . . A lively tour through the impulses that cause many of us to cheat, the book offers especially keen insights into the ways in which we cut corners while still thinking of ourselves as moral people.”
Booklist
“Through a remarkable series of experiments, Ariely presents a convincing case. . . . Required reading for politicians and Wall Street executives.”
Washington Post
“Ariely raises the bar for everyone. In the increasingly crowded field of popular cognitive science and behavioral economics, he writes with an unusual combination of verve and sagacity.”
David Brooks
“I thought [Ariely’s] book was an outstanding encapsulation of the good hearted and easygoing moral climate of the age.”
A.J. Jacobs
“Anyone who lies should read this book. And those who claim not to tell lies are liars. So they sould read this book too. This is a fascinating, learned, and funny book that will make you a better person.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“I was shocked at how prevalent mild cheating was and how much more harmful it can be, cumulatively, compared to outright fraud. This is Dan Ariely’s most interesting and most useful book.”
Time Magazine.com
"The best-selling author’s creativity is evident throughout. . . . A lively tour through the impulses that cause many of us to cheat, the book offers especially keen insights into the ways in which we cut corners while still thinking of ourselves as moral people."
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
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.
The Washington Post
Ariely raises the bar for everyone. In the increasingly crowded field of popular cognitive science and behavioral economics, he writes with an unusual combination of verve and sagacity. He asks us to remember our fallibility and irrationality, so that we might protect ourselves against our tendency to fool ourselves.
—Michael S. Roth

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062183590
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.06(d)

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What People are saying about this

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“I was shocked at how prevalent mild cheating was and how much more harmful it can be, cumulatively, compared to outright fraud. This is Dan Ariely’s most interesting and most useful book.”
David Brooks
“I thought [Ariely’s] book was an outstanding encapsulation of the good hearted and easygoing moral climate of the age.”
A.J. Jacobs
“Anyone who lies should read this book. And those who claim not to tell lies are liars. So they sould read this book too. This is a fascinating, learned, and funny book that will make you a better person.”

Meet the Author

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, and is the founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He lives in North Carolina with his family.

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The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love books that make me think. This highly entertaining and easy to understand book challenged my thinking all the way through. I told everyone about it everywhere I went since the studies were so fascinating and the documentation was so clear. I learned much from the book especially about how my creativity has served me so well all my life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PROS Informative and eye opening. After reading this book you cant help but look at your everyday life a little differently. Dan Ariely takes his time in explaining why we "fudge" the facts just enough so that we can get what we want... but still believe that we are not doing anything wrong. He does this in many creative ways, including fun anecdotes and interesting studies. At the end he quickly sums it all up and offers suggestions to society for the overall improvement of our moral compass. Quick read, not hard to follow for the most part. CONS Many of the issues in this book are similar, and after 5 or six of them it can get a little repetitive. While some of the experiments hold very valid points, a great deal of the others feel as though they were thrown together on a whim. Many of the conclusions that Ariely draws from these haphazard experiments feel as though he somehow reached an EPIC LIFE CHANGING discovery... but the reader is not always sure how they got to such a SPECIFIC statement. BOTTOM LINE If you are looking for an eye opening weekend book that you can discuss for a few hours with friends, this is the book for you. Using studies and social experiments (both industrial-strength and diluted) Dan Ariely shows us how we all have a little bit of the "fudge factor." FAVORITE QUOTE "Facts are for people who lack the imagination to create their own truth." - Anonymous
popscipopulizer More than 1 year ago
There is certainly no shortage of lying, cheating and corruption in our society today. At their worst, these phenomena do substantial damage to our communities and the people in them. Picking on the corporate world for just a moment, consider a few high-profile examples from the last decade: the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Haliburton, Kmart, Tyco, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and a host of banks in the financial crisis of 2008. If you are a particularly pessimistic person, you may think that people are fundamentally self-interested, and will engage in dishonest and corrupt behaviour so long as the potential benefits of this behaviour outweigh the possibility of being caught multiplied by the punishment involved (known as the Simple Model of Rational Crime or SMORC). On the other hand, if you are a particularly optimistic person, you may think that the lying and cheating that we see in our society is largely the result of a few bad apples in the bunch. Given that the way we attempt to curb cheating and corruption depends largely on which view we think is correct, we would do well if we could come up with a proper understanding of these tendencies, and under what circumstances they are either heightened or diminished. Over the past several years, the behavioural economist Dan Ariely, together with a few colleagues, has attempted to do just this--by way of bringing dishonesty into the science lab. Ariely reveals his findings in his new book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves. In order to get at the truth, Ariely invited subjects into his lab and gave them tasks with monetary rewards, and where cheating was a very real and clear possibility. As you can tell from the title of the book, Ariely found that cheating was not in fact confined to a few bad apples, but was in fact very widespread. On the bright side, though, Ariely also found that the vast majority of his subjects did not cheat nearly as much as they could have, but instead confined themselves to just a little bit of cheating. Given his findings, Ariely concludes that most of us are torn between two conflicting impulses. On the one hand is the desire to get ahead by way of dishonesty, and on the other hand is the desire to nevertheless think of ourselves as genuinely honest and good people. Getting the best of the both worlds can be tricky, but we manage to do so by way of resorting to our trusty capacities of rationalization and self-deception. Of course, different people show different powers of rationalization and self-deception, and also different circumstances can alter the terms of the negotiation significantly for each of us, thus leading to more or less cheating. For instance, Ariely found that those who are especially creative are particularly good at rationalization and self-deception, and therefore tend to cheat more so than others. In addition, he also found that several factors influence the amount that people cheat in general. These factors included being reminded of one's morals; having one's resolve broken down by will-power depletion; having one's self-confidence artificially inflated; witnessing other people cheating; cheating to benefit others etc. A full and comprehensive summary of the main argument in the book, as well as many of the juicier details and anecdotes to be found therein, will be available at newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com, on or before Monday, Jul
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I definitely thought the ideas were interesting...too many case studies drew the book out too much for my liking.