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
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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“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.”  — Time

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, returns with a thought-provoking work that challenges our preconceptions about dishonesty and urges 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 or less honest?

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 a white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning author Dan Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about than others; how getting caught matters less than we think in whether we cheat; 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062183613
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Pages: 313
Sales rank: 203,799
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight; a cocreator of the film documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies; and a three-time New York Times bestselling author. His books include Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Irrationally Yours, Payoff, Dollars and Sense, and Amazing Decisions. His TED Talks have been viewed more than 27 million times. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He lives in North Carolina with his family.

Table of Contents


Why Is Dishonesty So Interesting?

From Enron to our own misbehaviors

A fascination with cheating

Becker's parking problem and the birth of rational crime

Elderly volunteers and petty thieves

Why behavioral economics and dishonesty? 1

Chapter 1 Testing the Simple Model of Rational Crime (SMORC)

Get rich cheating

Tempting people to cheat, the measure of dishonesty

What we know versus what we think we know about dishonesty

Cheating when we can't get caught

Market vendors, cab drivers, and cheating the blind

Fishing and tall tales

Striking a balance between truth and cheating 11

Chapter 2 Fun with the Fudge Factor

Why some things are easier to steal than others

How companies pave the way for dishonesty

Token dishonesty

How pledges, commandments, honor codes, and paying with cash can support honesty

But lock your doors just the same

And a bit about religion, the IRS, and insurance companies 31

Chapter 2 B Golf

Man versus himself

A four-inch lie

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to take the mulligan

Schrödinger's scorecard. 55

Chapter 3 Blinded by Our Own Motivations

Craze lines, tattoos, and how conflicts of interest distort our perception

How favors affect our choices

Why full disclosure and other policies aren't fully effective

Imagining less conflicted compensation

Disclosure and regulation are the answers-or not. 67

Chapter 4 Why We Blow It When We're Tired

Why we don't binge in the morning

Willpower: another limited resource

Judgment on an empty stomach

How flexing our cognitive and moral muscles can make us more dishonest

Self-depletion and a rational theory of temptation. 97

Chapter 5 Why Wearing Fakes Makes Us Cheat More

The secret language of shoes

From ermine to Armani and the importance of signaling

Do knockoffs knock down our standards of honesty?

Can gateway fibs lead to monster lies?

When "what the hell" wreaks havoc

There's no such thing as one little white lie

Halting the downward spiral 117

Chapter 6 Cheating Ourselves

Claws and peacock tails

When answer keys tell us what we already knew

Overly optimistic IQ scores

The Center for Advanced Hindsight

Being Kubrick

War heroes and sports heroes who let us down

Helping ourselves to a better self-image 141

Chapter 7 Creativity and Dishonesty: We Are All Storytellers

The tales we tell ourselves and how we create stories we can believe

Why creative people are better liars

Redrawing the lines until we see what we want

When irritation spurs us onward

How thinking creatively can get us into trouble. 163

Chapter 8 Cheating as an Infection: How We Catch the Dishonesty Germ

Catching the cheating bug

One bad apple really does spoil the barrel (unless that apple goes to the University of Pittsburgh)

How ambiguous rules + group dynamics = cultures of cheating

A possible road to ethical health. 191

Chapter 9 Collaborative Cheating: Why Two Heads Aren't Necessarily Better than One

Lessons from an ambiguous boss

All eyes are on you: observation and cheating

Working together to cheat more?

Or keeping one another in line

Cheating charitably

Building trust and taking liberties

Playing well with others. 217

Chapter 10 A Semioptimistic Ending: People Don't Cheat Enough!

Cheer up! Why we should not be too depressed by this book

True crime

Cultural differences in dishonesty

Politicians or bankers, who cheats more?

How can we improve our moral health? 237

Chapter 11 Some Reflections on Religion and (Dis)honesty 255

Thanks 283

List of Collaborators 285

Notes 293

Bibliography and Additional Readings 295

Index 303

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.”

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