Rabat – The results of the experiment, carried out in 40 countries by a team of international scientists, revealed significant differences between nations.
The experiment showed that Switzerland and the Scandinavian nations were the most honest, while China, Morocco, Peru, and Kazakhstan closed the rankings.
France, however, followed close behind the Scandinavian countries coming in 10th place, Spain was in 14th place, while Morocco ranked 39th and China came at the bottom of the list.
The experiment, which cost $600,000, is unprecedented.
Research assistants placed more than 17,000 identical wallets in various establishments (hotels, banks, police stations, etc.)
About 400 were planted in each country.
On average, 40 percent of the wallets without money were returned, compared to 51 percent of those containing money.
Dishonesty apparently does not increase with the amount of money potentially gained, contradicting the vision of a human being purely motivated by money.
A remarkably similar phenomenon was observed in almost all countries: the more money the wallet contained, the more people contacted its owner.
“When there is money, people suddenly feel like they are stealing, and the feeling is even stronger when the amount increases,” says Christian Zünd, PhD student at the University of Zurich.
Wealth or poverty is not enough to explain the differences between countries, says Alain Cohn, a professor at the University of Michigan.
Local cultural values and the political system seem to influence. For example, the more historically strong family ties are in a country, the less the wallets were returned.
Italy appears less civic than France. This may be because people are more used to worrying about their own family group or close community than strangers, says Christian Zünd.
The team of researchers from universities in Zurich, Michigan, and Utah believe that this experiment and complementary surveys demonstrate two fundamental drivers of human behavior: altruism and the driving role of self-image and fear of seeing oneself as a thief.
“People are more moral than we think; governments ought to use human morality rather than batons,” Alain Cohn says. As for first-place Switzerland, homeland of three of the four co-authors, Alain Cohn said: “Of course, we were happy to see Switzerland at the top of the ranking”.