Fascinating and provocative, Dan Ariely’s The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty is an insightful and brilliantly researched take on cheating, deception, and willpower. The internationally best-selling author pulls no punches when it comes to home truths. His previous titles Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality have become classics in their field, revealing unexpected and astonishing traits that run through modern humankind.
Now acclaimed behavioural economist Dan Ariely delves deeper into the dark and murky recesses of contemporary psychology, daring to ask the big questions:
If you’ve ever wondered how a whole company can turn a blind eye to evident misdemeanours within their ranks, whether people are born dishonest, and whether you can really be successful by being totally, brutally honest, then this audiobook is for you.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2012 Dan Ariely
A good read, very similar to his "Predictably Irrational" and "Upside of Irrationality". There are repeats of some of the previous findings, but now through a different lens.
The essential message is that all of us lie. The trick is balancing how much we lie and cheat with our perception of ourselves.
It is fun making yourself predict the outcome of the studies as he is describing them... but a little disturbing to understand how much every single one of us lies in some way.
It finishes with some interviews from his "Arming the Donkeys" podcast, where Dan himself hosts the discussion - which are entertaining if you have not heard them before.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
Everyone cheats, at least, a little. This is true whether you are a priest or an atheist; wealthy or homeless; a banker or a moral philosopher. That everyone cheat is almost self-evident, but if you do not believe it, then that is one more reason you should read this book.
The focus of this book is not whether we cheat because we do. Rather it is when, how much, and why we cheat. The orthodox view on cheating has been that we cheat when we gain from it. If you can steal something and you know the risk of getting caught is basically zero, then you will. If you stand to gain a lot, you can live with a higher probability of getting caught. If, on the other hand, the penalty for getting caught is severe or if you would not gain very much then you do not cheat. This view, which has been, and still is, particularly prevalent among economists is, as this book will show, utterly wrong.
So when do we cheat? In short, we cheat when we can live with it. Almost everyone thinks of themselves as honest and righteous persons and to maintain this self-image, we tend to act accordingly (not acting in accordance with your self-image results in cognitive dissonance, which most people find stressful). We are usually creative enough to rationalize some types of cheating. For instance, most people think it is ok to take a pencil from their workplace or to take a can of coke from a co-inhabitant. We can rationalize these acts, but when acts begin to resemble blatant theft, most people shy away because it interrupts their personal narrative.
Ariely also discusses ways to reduce cheating. Reminding people of moral codes before an opportunity to cheat reduce cheating. For example, having people sign an “I declare that all my answers are truthful…” box before they fill out their tax form reduces cheating. Wearing counterfeits, on the other hand, seems to cause people to cheat more, presumably because that makes them think of themselves more as cheats. Other factors that increase cheating include being creative (makes it easier to rationalize), seeing others cheat, being asked to cheat (by your boss for instance).
Ariely is a good writer. He is funny while he maintains a high level of scientific rigor. All in all, this is a very good book and a must for anyone who wants a better understanding of the psychology of cheating.
When reading it, suddenly one understands that dishonesty is far from being black and white. Thanks for the insights, Dan.
Also so greatly narrated!
with his original social experiments. These books are best read in chronological order. If and when his next book comes out, I will listen to it.
I noticed we've just scraped the surface why we cheat, but this audiobook has some insightful points about that.
The reason why people cheat and deceive is not as simple as someone may think. Actually we may not even be aware why we behave the way we do. This book gives a better explanation for why humans cheat and what affects this behaviour.
Worth while to listen to.
Say something about yourself!
The topic is very well covered and there is valuable info in the book but it is tedious. I would recommend a highlights package.
The book is a scientific work that is presented to the general public. Unfortunately the author is too invested in maintaining his scientific credibility and as a results runs through every experiment in detail. It become too much.
"It's yourself you have to fool!"
MPs dishonestly claiming expense, banks lying to manipulate the LIBOR irate, price fixing by oil companies... Lying, cheating and dishonesty are all around us! Indeed Ariely's research shows that most of us are just a little bit dishonest, it seems. That's perhaps no surprise. The surprise factor for me, is that the bigger the amount, the LESS likely we are to cheat. The limiting factor seems to be not how much we can get away with, but how much we challenge our self-image by an act of dishonesty - and how far we can justify it to ourselves. This book looks at the many ways we justify our cheating, and how far from the truth and into serious fraud such justifications can subtly take us by salami tactics. Many factors are investigated by Ariely in a series of experiments. How does cheating by others corrupt our own honesty? How much do we calculate the risk of getting caught? Would a pair of drawn cartoon eyes stop you taking unclaimed money off a table? Are highly creative people more likely to tell lies than less creative people? Like his other books, I found this quite an eye opener - into my own attitudes towards honesty, cheating and my own self justifications to preserve intact my own good self-image. If nothing else, I think I recognise my own mental tricks to fool myself more. Enjoyably read by Simon Jones - the narration is like a hitchhikers guide to dishonesty in the very pleasant company of Arthur Dent.
"Lively and fun"
Dishonesty and cheating is quite a difficult issue to write about, but Dan Ariely has a light-handed, breezy approach which works very well. Much of the news is rather depressing - most people cheat some of the time, our doctors, dentists and bankers exploit us to their advantage, children are born with the natural inclination to deceive and we all mislead ourselves to our own advantage. On the bright side, most people are constrained by a broader moral code - you should only cheat a bit, you should not cheat blind people, you might also lie or cheat to achieve a greater 'overall fairness' in the world.
A lot of the results presented come from experiments on US undergraduates, so research-wise you might question the wider validity and implications. I found the questions raised interesting and most of the results intuitively satisfying. The book ends with a series of interviews/conversations with Ariely's colleagues. These do not add much to the content (they repeat results already presented) but it is interesting to hear Ariely, on the hoof, talking through the possible interpretations, misinterpretations and complications in the results. It shows how careful you have to be in experimental design, and in drawing any firm conclusions. The academic mind at work, you might say.
Narration. Mr Ariely (who speaks English with a strong Isreali accent) stumps up the fee for a professional narrator and I salute that decision. The narrator is a bit sing-song/Jackanory, but this is sometimes welcome as an antidote to the sensitive nature of many of the findings - i.e. a humorous tone helps when we are discussing how 'we are all a bit naughty, aren't we?'
"It's (honestly) great!"
A fascinating study of human behaviour, that is also enjoyable for the humour with which Ariely delivers his insights: thoroughly accessible and well-narrated.
"All blindingly obvious...with hindsight"
Well worth listening to, and whilst in no way a self-help book there is much to cause you to do things differently.
This is not a typical review, but just a couple examples of things that I'm now doing differently:
When I come across someone who has a declared 'conflict of interest' I now make much more allowance that what they are telling me is biased and I devalue the worth of what they are telling me much more than I did previously - this is of real value to those of us that read academic papers/attend conferences/listen to expert witnesses/speak to researchers funded by pharmaceutical companies etc.
I now often have a very superficial chat about morality and ethics at the beginning of meetings (which can be easily done whilst you are preparing a drink for someone rather than calling out for coffee and setting down to business straight away for example), it might be something faith based that we can talk about, or totally humanist (and it doesn't matter if you're not a humanist or if you are an atheist) as this subconsciously primes the person in front of you to behave more honestly, and also makes you more honest in your dealings with them so that you are both less likely to behave in that grey area of what is acceptable. Win win.
I would have liked a bit more information about the entry criteria for his experiments as I feel that it would be likely that some of the results could be biased if a high degree of rigour was not applied. The entry criteria were probably very rigorous, but we should have been told.
wonderful voice of Simon Jones and hilarious interviews at the end means this beats the print version but a little too much repeated from previous books
still 5 star read
"Overall solid but fairly unsurprising research."
This was an enjoyable listen and well performed.
The bonus interviews included at the end were a nice surprise.
"Everyone should read this book."
Such an insightful book I will defiantly reread this one to make sure I really absorb all of its wisdom.This I not just a book of useful knowledge if full of wit and good humor. The narration is so good I would definitely recommend the audio book over the paperback
"Another fabulous piece by Dan Ariely"
The content is captivating, very useful in in our daily life, and most importantly, supported by empirical evidence rather than opinions and hypothesis
After about the third account of an almost-identical study I started to find this audiobook tedious - but I stayed with it till the end... whereupon there are rather a lot of interviews that don't seem to add a lot to the book.
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