Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: how we lie to everyone---especially ourselves

#author.Dan Ariely

Decisions are NOT based on cost-benefit analysis. We take little cheats.
if ..."we would run a cost-benefit analysis on all of our decisions and do what seems to be the most rational thing... we wouldn't make decisions based on emotions or trust...
Social norm:
#Example of leaving 6-pack of Coke or plate with $1 bills. Dorm students would steal all the Cokes by 48hr but the plate of bills remain.

The thoughtStream follows like this://
Small bands of proto-humans were wandering scavengers. There was no way to store excess food, and all food stuff found by the group was essential. Survival of the band was dependent upon cooperativity; more eyes looking out for predators and for food. Social behaviors evolved to balance the survival instinct of the individual (consume all resource for self) and the survival of the group (sharing resource within group).

In this context, a little cheat was probably not "over looked" within the group because the food was essential. Each small band lived in almost complete social isolation. The social norm for small bands of wandering scavengers was to distrust all outside group --extreme xenophobia.

Early human hunter-gatherer groups started to develop ways to store excess stuff. The excess stuff would be "marginal" food/commodity. The excess stuff was not immediately eaten or used but would have a time decay. This might lead small bands to seek opportunities to trade with outside groups if a shared brand of social protocols could be formed. This higher-ordered layer of cooperativity between small bands would allow more efficient exploitation available resources.

Social norms developed in reaction to marginal food/commodity/stuff and dictated how cheating would be perceived. An individuals could probably steal a little bit of the marginal food from his own band, but not the essential.

With agriculture and domestication of animals, the level of "marginal" food increased. A barter system was created to exchange the marginal food and other commodities between small groups.  

Currency/money was introduce to increase the rate of exchange, thereby increasing the efficiency of the super-group's exploitation of resources.

Credit was introduce to increase the rate of money exchange, thereby increasing the efficiency of the mega-group's exploitation of resources.

#query.Why is it easier to steal the Coke than $1 cash. Why is it easier to spend $1 credit than spending $1 cash for a Coke? Is Coke like credit?

#example of 10 commandments decreasing the little cheats. Suggested have MIT honor code, but you need to do it right before the honesty challenge.

We also tend to perceive others as being more dishonest than ourselves.

#example of dentist and CAD/CAM systems. They would do more of these because they already paid for the equipment! Also Dan's experience with Dr. that wanted to tattoo his face! Dr. needed one more patient in study to publish.

Conflict of interest occurs throughout medical & pharmaceutical space.

Social norms makes us feel indebted to others for favors.
#example of logo on art and MRI scans.
".. the effects of reciprocity run deep, the brain scans showed the same effect; the presence of the sponsor's logo increased the activity in the parts of the participants' brain that are related to pleasure particularly the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for higher-order thinking, including associations and meaning)."
Pharmaceutical company reps give stuff (with logos) and service to Dr. to make Dr. feel indebted to the company. The Dr.s end up prescribing the drugs more.

high freq quote:
"Psychological studies show that we quickly and easily start believing whatever comes out of our own mouths, even when the original reason for expressing the opinion is no longer relevant... This is cognitive dissonance at play; doctors reason that if they are telling others about a drug, it must be good-- and so their own beliefs change to correspond to their speech, and they start prescribing accordingly."
Disclosure does not always solve conflict of interest.

Brand wrappers emotions and trust around products to make our decisions "easier".

Roy Baumeister (a professor at Florida State University) coined the "ego depletion".

The #example is trying to lose a few extra pounds. When we resist temptation, we use up some "ego", and our decision reverts to small-hunter gather responses? There must be actual, physical brain changes.

#example.Judges give out less paroles later in the day, when they are more tired. 
Control mental task = easy.
Depletion task = hard.
People given harder task subsequently took more little cheats.

Stroop task: saying the color of the written word and not its actual color.
For --RED-- you should respond by choosing blue and not red.
For --GREEN-- you should respond by choosing red and not green.
Control word would be BLUE.

People given harder task cheated almost twice as much. Depletion is bad.

Sometimes depletion is good. When you've honestly resisted, there comes a time to live in God's hand and your decision be closest to God's random finger. 

Wearing fake Prada makes you cheat more, and maybe be more creative?

Creative people can stretch the Fudge Factor more! We take more little cheats because we can be more creative in the self-rationalization and justification.
"... we should keep hiring creative people... we should still aspire to be creative ourselves, and we should continue to encourage creativity in others. But we also need to understand the links between creativity and dishonesty and try to restrict the cases in which creative people might be tempted to use their skills to find new ways to misbehave."
"Despite the general inclination to cheat that we observe over and over, and despite the increase in the propensity to cheat when others can benefit from such actions, being closely supervised eliminated cheating altogether."
But let them socialize first and get to know each other, and everyone reverts to little cheats again!

#example of revenge cheating. In no annoyance, 55% still cheated the pollster! If the pollster took a 12 second phone call during the test, the annoyed patrons would almost all cheat! 96% would take the $9 instead for honestly taking only the $5.
"We might even take this rationalization a step further and tell ourselves that we are simply restoring karma and balance to the world."

Interesting that even though there is a perception that there is different levels of cheating in different countries, when individuals from each country were tested in a neutral, culturally-independent test, people cheated to the same levels.

Pathological liars have less grey matter and more white matter in prefrontal cortex. 

People with more white matter.connectivity can infect us with dishonesty and creativity.

Classic #example of little cheats and social norms/brand psychology.
When possible we cheat, by a little.
If someone in our group blatantly cheats by a lot, we cheat a little bit more.
If someone in our group only blatantly cheats but explicitly states the cheating, we cheat as if we didn't observe the blatant cheating, and cheat just a little ourselves.
If someone outside our group blatantly cheats, we become almost completely honest.

Social norms dictates level of the little cheats.

We tend to trust professional that we've had long term relationship with.
#example of dentist proscribing crowns.

Roman general and "Memento mori".
Slave would whisper this into the ear of the victorious returning General.
"Remember your mortality"

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